GM launches car-sharing service, aims at millennials

General Motors’ new car-sharing app, Maven, marks the global automotive giant’s entry into a contest to gain the attention and loyalty of car-seeking college students.

Maven, which was unveiled last week, bundles GM’s existing programs, including residential car-sharing programs in New York and Chicago as well as a service in Germany. What is new, however, is a Zipcar-esque service which enables users to rent Chevrolet vehicles at rates of $6 to $12 an hour.

This service will not launch in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. or another large, dense city where ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft dominate. It will start off in Ann Arbor, Mich., home to the campus of the University of Michigan. While this is a sensible decision given the university’s 43-mile distance from GM’s Detroit headquarters, it may indicate that the company wants to engage with younger drivers.

Many believe that millennials are shunning car ownership. For example, Lyft CEO John Zimmer said in July 2015, “You could actually start seeing the majority of millennials in the next five years or so saying ‘there’s no reason I should get a car.’”

While there are a myriad of reasons why this demographic may be moving away from car ownership (at least in the short term), such as student loan debt, increasing urbanization of millennials, and environmental concerns, ride and car-sharing services certainly play a large role.

GM intends to make a bet in this market, as it has invested $500 million in Lyft and bought up the now defunct Sidecar. Its new service will have the additional benefit of building brand loyalty among those younger drivers who will eventually buy a car.

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