General Motors hits the gas with new car-share service

General Motors revs its engines with new car-share service
General Motors revs its engines with new car-share service   

After more than 100 years of selling cars, General Motors is giving car-sharing a spin with a new service targeting the growing mobility-on-demand market.

Maven, GM's new car-share operation, will begin renting vehicles by the hour or day within the next couple of weeks. The first market for Maven: Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"Today there are five or six million people globally using the sharing model for transportation and we see that growing four or five-fold between now and the end of the decade," said Dan Ammann, President of GM.

GM creating Maven is the latest in a series of recent moves by the country's largest automaker to position itself for the rapidly changing ways in which people are using cars and trucks

In early January GM took a stake in the ride-share firm Lyft. That came just weeks after the automaker quietly bought the assets of Sidecar, a San Francisco-based ride-share firm that shut down in December. Now, GM is accelerating its mobility-on-demand game plan.

How will Maven work?

In Ann Arbor, GM will offer a variety of models for rent by the hour or by the day. For example, Maven members can rent a small car such as the Chevy Spark for $6 an hour or $42 a day. The rate for a mid-size model such as the Chevy Malibu will be $8/hour or $56/day and large vehicles like the Chevy Tahoe will be $12/hour and $84/day.

After renting a particular vehicle, Maven customers will return it to one of 21 parking spots located around Ann Arbor.

As with other ride-share and car-share companies around the country, Maven customers will make reservations, open their car and coordinate payments entirely through a smart phone app.

"What we can offer the consumer is a completely personalized experience that means sharing (a car) that feels like yours," said Julia Steyn, GM vice president, Urban Mobility Programs.

While GM has moved quickly into the car-share business, it is not the first automaker to do so.

General Motors' record year
General Motors' record year   

Daimler has Car2Go which rents cars by the hour in a dozen North American cities including Los Angeles and New York.

BMW tested its own car-share program, DriveNow, in San Francisco for several years before shutting it down late last year.

All together, there are more than 25 car-share companies in the U.S. with Zipcar being the most well known.

Zipcar says it has more than 950,000 members who rent vehicles for short time periods in more than 30 cities and on 500 college campuses in North America and Europe.

Maven will also serve as the home for GM's other mobility-on-demand programs including residential car-share pilot projects in New York and Chicago, peer-to-peer car-sharing in Germany and car-share test programs on GM campuses around the world.

While it may be a start-up, Ammann believes Maven will eventually pay-off for GM both as a revenue stream and as a way to expand GM's brands to new markets and connect with customers they struggled to reach in the past.

"We see the emergence of car-share, ride-share as much more of an opportunity than a threat."

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.