By on April 21, 2020

Image: GM

The great General Motors ride-sharing experiment is over. At least for now. Maven, which hit parking lots in 2016 and eventually expanded into the nation’s driveways, was GM’s attempt to put its vehicles to work, rather than sell them to retail or fleet customers like some kind of dinosaur.

For a fee, users could access the GM-owned fleet of Maven products to perform random driving tasks. Short trips, mainly, in the absence of an Uber or Lyft ride or participation in a more formal car-sharing agreement. Tap that app, find the car, unlock it, and drive off. Abandon somewhere after you’re done.

Well, that’s what GM just did with Maven.

As reported by The Verge, the company sent out notices to users on Tuesday notifying them of the “immediate” suspension of the Maven experiment.

“After critically looking at our business, the industry, and what’s going on with COVID-19, we have made the tough but necessary decision to wind down our business,” the automaker wrote to its customers.

Maven services went offline in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but today’s message confirms a permanent cancellation. GM’s efforts to insert Maven services into various American and Canadian cities came as the automaker explored new revenue streams in the dawning (and dazzlingly promising) Age of Mobility. Thing is, the windfalls promised by such business models have, for the most part, failed to materialize. Maven was not a money maker.

Despite the service’s expansion into other pilot projects, last year brought suggestions of trouble ahead.

In January 2019, Jill Steyn, who oversaw the launch and guided Maven through its first two-plus years, abruptly left the company. Before Steyn’s departure, the service had branched out with Maven Gig, a rental service providing vehicles to rideshare and delivery drivers. In 2018 came peer-to-peer carsharing, allowing owners of newer GM vehicles to earn money by renting out their rides to Maven customers. That service ultimately expanded to 10 cities.

Shortly before her  departure, Steyn spoke of adding non-GM vehicles to the service.

Taking over from Steyn in February 2019 was Sigal Cordeiro, a 19-year GM veteran who formerly served as executive director of global product marketing for the automaker’s overseas GEM vehicle platform. Nothing new emerged from Maven after that point.

Partway through last year, Maven announced it was pulling its services from several large U.S. cities, among them New York City, Chicago, and Boston, signalling that the experiment may have gone as far as it could. The pandemic seems to have been the final straw.

In a statement published by The Verge, Pamela Fletcher, GM’s vice president of global innovation, said, “We’ve gained extremely valuable insights from operating our own car-sharing business.”

“Our learnings and developments from Maven will go on to benefit and accelerate the growth of other areas of GM business.”

General Motors would now like to have a word with you about the zero-percent/84-month financing available to eligible buyers.

[Image: General Motors]

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31 Comments on “An Experiment in Error? Maven Bites the Dust, GM Lauds ‘Insights’ Gained...”

  • avatar

    I guess they saw no net gain for GM in the scheme

  • avatar

    So where did all the money go? Isn’t this one of those startups GM invested a couple hundred million into? Also who accepts blame, coronavirus or not this clearly had no chance of ever succeeding.

    Additionally if I come up with some stupid fundamentally flawed idea that sounds “hip” can I cash in for a couple years myself?

  • avatar

    GM likes to talk about the future while selling you the past.

    • 0 avatar

      I am seriously interested in the past esp if it is a 1959 Bonneville Sport Coupe.

      • 0 avatar

        From Promontory Summit (following the afternoon demonstration of the Jupiter and No. 119), work your way counter-clockwise around the Great Salt Lake down to Oasis, Nevada (*highly* recommended to drive this route at dusk/early evening – did you bring some good music?). There are hotels in Wells.

        Now you are set up to head east on 80 the next morning across the Bonneville Salt Flats. Take Exit 4 toward the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway. When the pavement ends, check your tire pressure and head out on the salt. If you want (advertisement-style) pictures of your vehicle on the flats, take them before you drive on the salt much – it will cake up quickly. If you time your visit correctly, the lane markings from Speed Week will still be visible. The posted limit is 15 [but is anyone watching?]. Don’t get crazy and don’t get lost (it’s very possible).

        When you’re done, head back to West Wendover and thoroughly wash your vehicle, including the undercarriage. Then head east toward Salt Lake City (you just took the long way around the lake).

        Because experiencing the real deal is infinitely better than driving an aspirational nameplate from a defunct brand.

  • avatar

    I think what would be really cool is if GM started building cars and trucks with a reputation for style, quality and reliability.

    • 0 avatar

      No that costs money, they need to “invest” in more irrelevant startups that have back door deals for Mrs. Barra.

      • 0 avatar

        They have wasted sooooooo much money over the decades trying to do something other than build great cars. It makes me sick. I WANT to root for them, but they just seem so self-delusional. The next thing is always the “game-changer.” They have such a short attention span.

        • 0 avatar

          Surprisingly, I agree with you 100%. GM lacks the discipline to focus on the long haul. They view success as big sales numbers only. Many promising GM designs have been put out to pasture because they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, stay the course and make each iteration better than the last. Hyundai figured it out and they started with some seriously crappy stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      I grew up in a GM family… but a few bad cars and we were a Nissan family. And then my dad went back to GM – for a 1999 Aurora! – while I started to putter around with the old G-Body cars.

      These days it would be uh Corvette, the almost defunct Regal TourX, and uh… maybe a Camaro but I would have to test drive it for a long spell to see if the sight lines (or lack of!) drove me crazy. Nothing else in their portfolio interests me at all.

      But of course these days little does from most manufacturers.

  • avatar

    New York City coffee bars.
    Cars with NewtonMeter badges on the back.
    Alpha Numeric badged models.

    I could go on. Jeez.
    I m beginning to think the buzz word guys run the company now. You know, the guy at your company that likes to lay down the buzz words, but when the discussion gets deeper, you realize HE DOESNT KNOW WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.

    The Melody Lee types.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. And before that, more moon-shots. They bought a space company, they started Saturn, they made the electric car of the future. The introduced and terminated endless models. Ever since the Japanese started to eat their lunch, they have been in denial. Meanwhile, the Japanese give you the Civic, Accord, Camry, etc… for decades, and then sell everything on their reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      +1. And the BOD must be totally gutless to permit the self-delusion to continue. Nobody seems willing to say no to this nonsense.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As predicted:

  • avatar

    So how many people signed up for this service? Did they even crack 5 digits?

    Most people hate rental cars (from the concept thru the hassle of returning them) so anyone who thought the idea of borrowing a car would catch on is beyond foolish. The PowerPoint deck must have been pretty impressive to turn this into a thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Eh, car sharing is a fine service, and there’s a handful of players who have managed to make it work for a while (ZipCar, which is now part of Avis, and I know Enterprise bought out a Toronto-area company and has been operating it under their banner). It’s just a business model that only makes sense in a handful of denser areas, and made even more sense before the rise of Uber/Lyft. Anecdotally, but a friend of mine is a stereotypical hipster city dweller, and loves it for the odd trip to see family or larger shopping trips (cheaper than parking and running costs for a car of his own).

      2016 was rather late to get into the game, and I imagine being tied to GM products didn’t help costs (even with normal fleet discounts, most of their cars aren’t that cheap for my employer to run.

  • avatar

    Deadweight, I miss you.

  • avatar

    In 1954, GM’s US market share was 54%. It’s currently 17%. You can’t accomplish that kind of a change by mere management incompetence; it takes active malfeasance to do it.

  • avatar

    Literally the first I’ve heard of this – I heard about the Cadillac car share idea here in NYC, but this one never made it to any sort of exposure in the NYMA market.

    GM would do better if they spent the money on better quality parts instead of making every one of them match cheapest Chinese pricing with ensuing quality.

    No matter-GM will never cross my driveway.

    • 0 avatar

      GM must use maximum Chiniesium because the average UAW member is paid $65 – $80,000/year. Add in the GOLD plated bennies they get: the true load is

      Other non UAW Big 3 heavy manufacturing jobs pay a solid $20,000 to $35,000 LESS.

  • avatar

    “After critically looking at our business, the industry, and what’s going on with COVID-19, we have made the tough but necessary decision to wind down our business,”

    Let me translate that from GM-speak for you.

    “Wow, this was stupid, but we don’t want to admit it was a mistake, so thanks, Covid-19, for giving us an excuse for quitting!”

  • avatar

    Wasn’t this thing the source of a vehicle that a TTAC writer rented in Detroit for an NAIAS gig, and the experience was pretty much a fustercluck?

  • avatar

    Wow this place is full of some super unintelligent douchebags. It’s like clique central for rtards and morons.
    Great job TTAC, you’ve done a great job killing this site!

  • avatar

    I’ve been kinda considering a used Chevy Bolt EV. Recently, a metric buttload of them appeared all at once on the market in California — only a year or two old and at bargain prices. But on closer inspection, they all had 100,000 miles and scratched-up rear door panels.

    Now it makes sense. My guess is, those are the Maven Gig cars. Maven Gig, GM’s lease-by-the-day program, was very popular with rideshare drivers — every Chevy Bolt EV they had in greater L.A. was reserved again the moment it reappeared on the map.

    Incidentally, they all seemed to have wound up at the faux-upscale lots that pepper California’s Inland Empire. These lots peddle late-model cars at utterly irresistible prices. The catch is a) an accident history, disclosed or not, b) very high miles for the year, c) an undisclosed $3000 dealer fee that they try to hide in the paperwork, or d) all of the above. Word to the wise: avoid any place with Warehouse, Wholesale, or Direct in the name…it’s a scam.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Any and all used vehicle purchases must be approached with great caution. I beleive the 7-day no questions asked return policy pioneered by CarMax needs to become SOP for all dealerships.

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