GM’s Maven starts offering one-way car sharing

GM’s Maven has begun rolling out one-way car sharing for its members in Ann Arbor and Detroit, letting users pick up vehicles and use them to get between Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, and between Detroit and the Detroit Metro airport. The one-way service is a big advantage for car-sharing services, as it means users don’t have to worry about planning their return trip.

One-way means members can pick up their rental vehicles in one location and drop them off somewhere else, rather than having to bring them back to where they originally began their rental. Zipcar and has been offering one-way service for a little while now after beginning as exclusively round-trip, rolling out first in Boston in 2014 and then gradually adding other cities over time. Maven’s rollout is starting where its service first began, but COO Dan Grossman tells me via email that the company will “assess city to city” and expand gradually from that beginning point.

Asked whether or not this was always on the roadmap, or whether it was launched in response to user feedback about the service, Grossman said that it was the result of both. “[W]e assumed we could layer this service on top of round trip,” he said, but the possibility of one-way also got great feedback when floated with members.

Other car-sharing services rely on even more flexibility for rentals as a key competitive advantage. Daimler’s car2go, for instance, offers not only one-way, but also free parking at specified locations and drop-offs in city-run lots, depending on the system in place for a particular city.

Any kind of one-way offering is a vast improvement over a rigorous round-trip-only offering, however, so Maven’s move today is definitely smart. Maven also continues to grow, having quickly expanded to five cities since launching earlier this year.