Maven, a car sharing company out of General Motors, is driving its way into San Francisco today. The announcement made late Thursday evening is one part of a continued roll-out in several cities throughout the U.S., which started at the beginning of this year.
It’s city based car sharing service called Maven City is now available in nine cities throughout the nation, joining Lyft’s new driver rental program Lyft Express Drive, which was introduced this summer.
GM has been cozy with Lyft for a while and added a whopping half a billion dollars to its last funding round. There have also been rumors the major car manufacturer was in talks to buy the rideshare company.
Maven says about 10,500 Maven members and Lyft drivers have used Express Drive so far, logging nearly 15 million miles between them.
But there are plenty of other ways to get around in the City by the Bay – Lyft, Uber, MUNI and taxis among them. And Maven will also be competing with older, more established car-sharing outfits. Getaround has been around since 2009 and the even older Zipcar — which was scooped up by Avis — launched in the year 2000.
Maven started rolling out a one-way rental service in late September, allowing drivers to pick up a car in one place and drive it to the next destination without needing to return it. But Zipcar has also been offering a one-way service for a while.
Still, Maven believes it will stand out in S.F., especially among the tech crowd. “Maven’s blend of new cars with seamless technology provides a fully connected car sharing experience that helps bring our members closer to the experiences, places and people they love,” Maven’s VP of urban mobility Julia Steyn said of the expansion to San Francisco.
Maven uses your smartphone to unlock and access the vehicle. Some of the other car sharing services do this, too. But unlike Getaround or other peer-to-peer car sharing, Maven uses GM’s cars and can thus offer high-tech integrations like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, SiriusXM radio and 4G LTE wireless connectivity.
Maven says for $8 an hour you can rent any of its 60 tech-savvy vehicles placed in busy areas throughout the city (compare that to Getaround, which starts at $5 an hour and goes up from there, depending on the car).
But will these tech offerings entice San Franciscans to use the service? It certainly makes the experience more enjoyable and if you’d rather drive a nice, newish GM car instead of your neighbor’s Tesla the service might be for you.