GM's Maven is a Sneaky Way to Get Urban Millennials to Try the Company's Vehicles

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While Ford is currently the domestic automaker making the biggest push into in mobility services — which seem to entail practically anything outside of traditional manufacturing and distribution — it isn’t the only company preparing itself for an era of declining vehicle ownership. FCA has partnered with Waymo to develop a fleet of self-driving Pacificas and General Motors has a personal mobility brand, called Maven, that acts as a car-sharing service.

While it isn’t quite so technologically advanced as autonomous vehicles or automotive A.I., Maven provides additional revenue immediately and furnishes GM with a unique opportunity to cope with some of the ownership problems of tomorrow. Car-sharing is good way for GM to profit from people who don’t own cars, but it’s also a clever method of getting young urban drivers to spend money on becoming more familiar with their product — especially on the coasts where import brands tend to outsell their domestic counterparts.

“[Maven] left me with a much better impression of GM cars,” Parker Day told Automotive News. “I had never really thought that much about GM cars, or really American cars. But it seems like they’ve gotten much better. They drive nice, they have heated seats and they get good gas mileage.”

Day is a 28-year-old technology consultant in San Francisco who may someday need to own a car, and GM wants it to be one from its fleet. Using the service has allowed him to spend time with the Cruze and Malibu in what is essentially a series of extended test drives.

Julia Steyn, Maven’s head officer, said she’s running a profitable business operation but is also aware that a large portion of the service is the potential to steer customers toward dealerships. “This is additive to the core business. The whole company is now looking at this as a portfolio of opportunities to provide our customers,” Steyn told Automotive News at last month’s Detroit auto show. “If Maven customers are at the stage when they would like to buy a vehicle, we definitely have an opportunity to help them with that.”

Maven’s membership is a far cry away form the typical GM customer of today. Steyn claimed that 78 percent are between ages 18 and 36. The average user is 30 and possesses plenty of disposable income. Launched just over a year ago, the car-sharing service has drawn in 23,000 users and expanded to 17 North American markets.

With that success in mind, Cadillac also tried its hand at a premium vehicle subscription service that it calls “Book.” However, that project has gotten off to rocky start and received some fairly harsh criticism.

[Image: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • OldManPants OldManPants on Feb 12, 2017

    Jesus H, Chevy, PLEASE lose the greasy yellow bowtie already! I always flat-blacked mine. You make competent cars and great trucks but then you slap the car equivalent of Golden Arches on them.

    • See 7 previous
    • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Feb 13, 2017

      @nickoo "The Chevy bow-tie logo should always be blue. No reason it should have ever went to gold." Gold matches better than blue and looks good on both my black Tahoe and my Volt with the "cadillac" metallic white paint.

  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Feb 12, 2017

    "They drive nice, they have heated seats and they get good gas mileage" If this is the standard millennials use to evaluate cars, then the auto industry is doomed. Almost all cars have these characteristics and if this is all millennial customers want - then the cheapest appliance will win. The auto industry needs to figure out how to make cars desirable and affordable again. Without that - the industry is doomed to become a white-goods commodity industry.

    • See 9 previous
    • TMA1 TMA1 on Feb 13, 2017

      That only car that guy ever owned was a hand-me-down 1999 Chevy Lumina. Heated seats and good gas mileage probably seem like a huge leap forward to him, and I doubt he's driven a large array of modern cars to form the necessary basis for comparison.

  • ToolGuy I have a gasoline-powered generator (not a super nice one) but I'm not happy about it. My tools and devices also aren't happy when they see the crappy modified sine wave power. The generator itself isn't happy as it sits there deteriorating and waiting to start a fire (the junky fuel line/shutoff valve failed on me). ¶ Current preference is to use battery-powered tools when working away from utility company power. ¶ On my wish list is a nice pure sine wave inverter. ¶ Better than that would be a hybrid or EV vehicle with pure sine wave power.
  • Carson D Based on the headline, I assumed this was going to be another EV article.
  • Mebgardner I own a Wen 2000 inverter for camping, and a Yamaha ef3000is inverter type for emergency duties connected to the house. Inverter type insures clean power for modern appliances and electronics. The Yamaha is dual fuel, will run on propane too. Propane stores forever, gasoline does not. I can run all of my "essential" stuff from 120 VAC single phase, thru a transfer switch. Emergency cooking on a propane grill or camp stove, or microwave. No 240 VAC required, so a smaller generator is sufficient and efficient. The hard tedious part is the annual drain n replace gas fuel, what a PITA. But, it is also an annual system test, and they start right up 1st crank year after year. I keep a cover for the generator for use during bad weather, camping or otherwise. Yes, you should have a cover. Either your ready for bad weather operations or you're not. They are not as quiet as what's described here. They all, every one of them, has a high frequency component to the mechanical sound. That high frequency sound carries really far. Sure they are quiet compared to your father's generator, but you will hear it running.
  • ToolGuy "Hold up guys, I didn't know we were starting." -- Ford Motor Company
  • ToolGuy Automotively speaking, the 1970s were bad.