GM’s Maven Gig is a car sharing service tailor-made for the gig economy

Maven, GM’s dedicated mobility wing, is launching Maven Gig on Wednesday, giving occasional gig economy workers a way to easily gain access to a vehicle for short stints to do things like deliver groceries and food on demand, and provide ride sharing services. For $229 per week, inclusive of insurance, unlimited miles, free charging and regular maintenance, Maven Gig provides access to Chevrolet Bolt EVs initially, so you can be a freelancer when you need or want to, and easily return the car when you don’t.

Gig is a new offering within Maven’s lineup alongside Maven City and also Maven’s Express Drive program for Lyft drivers, or its partnership with Uber, both of which will continue to exist alongside Gig. But for anyone looking for more flexibility and range in the kind of on-demand service work they provide, Gig is intended to offer exactly that.

“I would call it complimentary to, but also an evolution of what we’ve already been doing with the gig economy,” explained Maven’s Director of Commercial Mobility Strategy Rachel Bhattacharya in an interview. “One of the needs we kept hearing from our renters, and one of the things we’ve seen in data about how people participate as a 1099 driver is multiple platforms. We know that our customers are really looking to earn on their own terms, drive for whoever they want. Everybody has slightly different ways of earning and maximizing how they benefit from the gig economy, and we wanted to open that up.”

Maven Gig is launching forest in San Diego, where it’s live as of right now, and then it’s going to be rolling out to San Francisco and Los Angeles after that. Bhattacharya told me that these locations made the most sense for a debut because of a combination of driver earning potential (these markets see disproportionately high use of on-demand delivery and reshaping services), and because of the existing charging infrastructure present in those cities thanks to partner EVgo, which is providing the free charging locations for use with Maven Gig’s fleet of Bolts.

“We will be rolling out in other markets, and we’re coordinating closely with [EVgo],” Bhattacharya said. “What we do is give them known demand on a known cadence in specific markets. So as they’re looking to build and rolling our their infrastructure, they don’t have to just speculatively build and hope people show up. We can say ‘This month, this city, we’re gonna drop this many Bolts, and then a month later we’ll add this many Bolts,’ and we can work closely with them.”

This has the benefit of stimulating the development of additional EV charging infrastructure, which is big for helping drivers feel comfortable purchasing and using electric cars, and on the other side, it removes some of the risk for companies like EVgo hoping to build a business out of creating a charging network. Maven has thus far deployed over 100 Bolt EVs across carsharing services in California, which is a significant boon for EVgo charging demand.

That infrastructure, and the use of Bolt EVs in fleet deployments, seems like a recipe that could eventually become a fully fledged autonomous vehicle network, which is something GM has suggested Maven will help with in the past. Bhattacharya said she couldn’t comment on their specific autonomous plans, but that the Maven Gig program does offer a “lot of nice learning opportunities and synergies” in that area.

Meanwhile, Maven Gig is another expansion of what Maven can offer users today, and it complements the company’s existing ZipCar-like hourly rental model in interesting ways, Bhattacharya told me.

“What we’re doing is, we’re bringing you a vehicle, you can use it for personal use in the City program, you can go away for the weekend, you can do a trip, you can just run errands around town, and if you just want to pay for an hour or two of use, that’s great,” she explained, walking through how Maven sees its programs working together for drivers. “If you decide you want to participate in the gig economy and earn for a while, you can take this car for as little as a week, as long as a month-plus, and earn with it, and also obviously use it for personal use, though you’re committing to a slightly longer contract. If after a few weeks of that, you earned enough for whatever you were trying to do, you can drop back down to the City program and just use the car when you need it.”

While Maven is helping GM figure out alternatives in the vehicle market to individual ownership, it could also help the on-demand economy with its driver supply side, unlocking an available resource pool that has all the ingredients to be participate in gig economy services, but without cars since they’re largely urban dwellers. Maven Gig’s official partners include GrubHub, Instacart, Roadie, Uber and Lyft, but gig could float all boats in the space, given its openness in terms of the services Gig users choose to drive for.

Maven Gig is expensive compared to a lease, of course, but it also means no long-term commitment, and also no need to worry about insurance, fuel costs, and maintenance. For city residents increasingly looking to supplement via gig economy side jobs, that sounds like an attractive recipe.