EVs fuel GM’s car-share vision

on Aug2

“We’re still very much in startup mode, but we’ve had positive results to date.”
Rachel Bhattacharya, Maven Photo credit: Greg Horvath

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Electric vehicles will be the key to General Motors’ vision of shared vehicle ownership, the head of the automaker’s commercial mobility unit said Tuesday.

Maven, the automaker’s car-sharing service, is adding a growing number of Chevrolet Bolt EVs to its lineup, said Rachel Bhattacharya, who spoke at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars.

Maven has added 150 Bolts to its fleets since May, and just ordered 250 more, she said.

The EVs are being funneled to Maven’s new Gig venture, a service aimed at entrepreneurs who need a vehicle to make deliveries or to drive for ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber.

Maven Gig, which launched in May in San Diego and has expanded to San Francisco, lets customers pay to use vehicles for a week at a time.

The Bolt costs a customer $229 a week, including insurance, maintenance and charging. That’s about $40 more than other vehicles, but customers end up saving about $70 a week on fuel costs.

Bhattacharya said drivers have, on average, put 30 percent more miles on the Bolts than cars with internal combustion engines. Since the Bolts began being offered in May, drivers have logged more than 1 million electric miles.

“Early interest has been phenomenal,” Bhattacharya said of consumers. “For most of them, it’s not about environmentalism. It’s about fuel savings.”

Since Maven launched 18 months ago, it has expanded to 17 cities in North America. In addition to Maven Gig, it offers one-way and round-trip car rentals in urban centers. It has also expanded with a Maven Home service, which installs a small fleet of shared vehicles at apartment complexes and other residential communities.

Bhattacharya said the brand is introducing new, younger buyers to GM and is helping the automaker learn about infrastructure needs.

“The whole goal of Maven is we’re the learning laboratory for General Motors as we’re preparing for an autonomous future,” she said. “We’re still very much in startup mode, but we’ve had some positive results to date.”

She said Maven has benefited from established brands such as Zipcar.

“In some ways it’s nice to go into a market where other companies have tread some of the ground, and take some of those learnings and improve on them,” she said. “On the other hand, there’s cases where we can get out there and be the first mover, which is great. We have the ability to balance between those two realities.” 

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