Maven's 'Peer Cars': Your Mobility Future Is Someone Else's Ride

A pilot project we discussed months ago is now up and running in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Chicago. Launched by General Motors’ Maven ride-sharing arm, the new peer-to-peer service goes beyond the existing fleet of GM-owned vehicles (which Maven users can rent for varying periods) and into the realm of the privately-owned car.

Yes, there’s owners who are now letting their car work for them.

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Captain Obvious Finally Arrives: Ride Hailing Actually Congests City Traffic

A recurring theme among ride-hailing executives from the likes of Lyft and Uber is that their platforms will help reduce congestion in the world’s most populous cities. However, anyone actually living in these places will tell you it doesn’t appear to be working. Cities like New York were already clogged with taxi cabs but, instead of seeing all of these drivers buy personal vehicles to enlist as independent contractors for ride-hailing firms, Uber and Lyft brought in new drivers, more vehicles, and fresh competition.

Worse yet, ride-sharing alternatives like Uber Pool have moved people away from buses and trains and placed them in the backseats of cars — further compounding the problem. It turns out city dwellers who already owned an automobile didn’t suddenly decide to get rid of it, and those who were heavily invested in mass transit discovered an affordable car-based alternative.

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Daimler Might Expand Its 'Mobility Services' Through an Unlikely German Ally

Automotive soothsayers have foreseen the coming Armageddon, where private car ownership vanishes and we’re all ferried around in robotic taxis or rental vehicles, and manufacturers have taken their divinations to heart. Either that, or the opportunity to diversity already successful companies is too tempting a prospect to pass up. As such, we’ve seen “mobility” become the new industry buzzword — used as a fill-in for electric vehicles, autonomous development, and ride-sharing/hailing programs.

Hoping to expand its own mobility services, Daimler has announced an openness to seek broader alliances just days after BMW Group bought out its rental car partner, Sixt, from their joint car-sharing program DriveNow. That sets the stage for a peculiar partnership, as the two German automakers have a long, competitive history with each other — one which sometimes results in passive-aggressive behavior.

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With an EV on the Way, Mini's Looking for Partners and Thinking Hard About the U.S.

Mini faces a fork in the road in the United States. The retro-themed brand, reintroduced in the U.S. marketplace in 2002 by parent company BMW Group, needs to decide what it wants to be. Sales are falling as consumer tastes evolve towards larger vehicles. New technologies are cropping up at a rapid pace. What is the child of the British Motor Corporation, British Leyland, Rover Group, and BMW Group to do?

BMW Group management board member Peter Schwarzenbauer knows the brand needs to evolve — and not just in the U.S., where the brand reach a high point in 2013. After announcing a new electric Mini Cooper Hardtop (Mini E) for 2019, Schwarzenbauer took some time to address its U.S. plans.

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Carlos Ghosn: Car Ownership Will Not Be Replaced With Mobility

Everyone in the automotive industry is talking about a grand shift toward mobility, resulting in a future where nobody owns cars and we all putt around in autonomous pods. Well, almost everyone. Carlos Ghosn, who currently chairs the alliance between Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi, thinks that’s a crock.

While there’s plenty of executives keeping quiet on the evolution of ownership, few have come forward suggest business as usual will be the new status quo. Meanwhile, swaths of industry experts are pushing the notion that rental services, ride-sharing, and firms like Uber or Lyft will eventually replace the need for dealerships and garages.

Not Carlos.

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Drivers Are Pissed About Lyft's New Partnership With Taco Bell

Taco Bell and ride-hail company Lyft announced plans this week to debut “a unique ride-thru” experience called “Taco Mode,” which will allow patrons to request a pit stop at the nearest Taco Bell location. Lyft claims it’s the perfect option for “passengers seeking the ultimate Taco Bell experience.”

While riders can already request to be driven to the restaurant with some of the worst-maintained bathrooms imaginable, Lyft promises the app makes the overall endeavor of buying fast food “more convenient — and fun — than ever.”

Why would these companies join forces? According to the press release, it’s because they “are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation.” Don’t laugh. After all, Taco Bell was the company that realized you could make a taco shell out of fried chicken, while Lyft was the organization that took Uber’s business model and added furry pink mustaches.

They also both serve the late-night community. The restaurant chain provides a “fourth meal” to individuals that are too drunk or stoned to cook and the ride-hailing service keeps them from endangering others by stopping them from operating a motor vehicle. On the surface, it seems like a natural fit for a genius cross-marketing opportunity — until you place yourself into the shoes of the driver plighted to slop these disgusting animals in the backseat.

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Ford's Rao to Ride-Sharing Firms: Our Service Centers Are Waiting; Come and Get It

Ford Motor Company may soon press dealership service centers to prioritize maintenance and repairs for ride-sharing fleets and their employees. This comes after the company’s decision to expand its in-house shuttling firm, known as Chariot, and as its long-term plan to bring an autonomous ride-sharing solution to market by 2021 takes shape. But Ford also knows rival companies can be a strong source of revenue. Omnicraft, anyone?

Even moderately sized cities have several thousand Uber and Lyft drivers, and Ford’s CEO of Smart Mobility Raj Rao thinks they represent an untapped resource. He believes service centers should go the extra mile for them, even if it means some dealerships have to stay open 24 hours to provide swift turnarounds.

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Smart Stays the Course in Europe as It Shifts Focus in the United States

You’d probably never guess this from examining any parking lot in suburban North America, but Daimler’s microcar brand is actually doing exceedingly well. Despite the global trend toward crossovers, Smart saw record sales last year and increased its global volume 21 percent to 144,479 units. More amazing is that it’s still a brand that owes the entirety of its success to one niche market.

Smart doesn’t seem interested in changing course, either. While it’s abandoning internal combustion units to pursue a strict EV-only mentality in the United States, it will be business as usual for the the rest of the planet. But, with much of the industry offering spanking new compact crossovers and with fuel prices still so low, wouldn’t it be in Smart’s best interest to look beyond the limited microcar segment?

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Forget Automakers, Now AAA Wants to Lend You a Car

Automakers, both domestic and come-from-away, all want you to do the next best thing if your meager funds aren’t enough to get you into a showroom: borrow a car.

Ride-sharing services provide mainly urban dwellers with the car they so desperately crave, without the years of payments or need to find permanent parking. And, if an automaker partners up with a service provider — or creates its own — there’s still money flowing back to the offices of Big Auto. Win-win, no?

The growing trend is hard to ignore, and it means that automakers — already new to the game — face ever greater competition, even from unlikely sources. The latest company to offer a ride-sharing service isn’t a manufacturer at all. It’s the American Automobile Association.

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As Uber Implodes, President Jeff Jones Cancels His Six-Month Ride

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

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For Two, No More: Mercedes-Benz Delves Further Into 'Mobility' With Car2Go Sharing Service

Daimler AG’s Car2Go has been a great way for the company to dump Smart Fortwos on urban areas and turn a profit while the itty-bitty city car’s popularity wanes. However, with only the single small offering, Car2Go is the only vehicle-sharing service that forces subscribers to decide which of their two children will have to be left behind to fend for themselves every time they take a trip somewhere.

In response, Mercedes-Benz is providing its CLA and GLA to C2G’s North American fleet — reuniting families, allowing a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single run, and making its service substantially more competitive with rival ZipCar.

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A War Against Self-Driving Cars Just Kicked Off in New York, But It Could Turn Into Grenada

A great philosopher once said that you can’t start a fire without a spark, followed by something about rhythmic movements in unlit spaces.

Well, if there’s a war brewing against autonomous technology and self-driving vehicles, the flashpoint might have occurred in New York — City and State — last week. A large trade group and labor union joined forces in denouncing the driverless scourge headed their way, with one of the groups angling for a 50-year-ban on the automotive heathens.

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BMW and Daimler Call a Truce to Merge Car-sharing Services

Bitter rivals Daimler AG and BMW are planning to combine their car-sharing services —Car2Go and DriveNow — to compete with North America’s Uber car service. The two must be desperate to make headway into the world of vehicle ownership alternatives if they are willing to cooperate on the project.

BMW famously avoided a Daimler-Benz takeover in 1959 by convincing nearly every employee to invest back into the company, thus avoiding both bankruptcy and being forced to join with their main competitor. More recently, Daimler offered BMW employees free admission to the Mercedes-Benz Museum for BMW’s 100th birthday, where they could learn “the complete history of the automobile.”

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Uber Select: It's For Morons

There are some absolutely terrible people in this world who are fools for prestige, suckers for any shiny bauble or deplorable frippery that might permit them the despicable foppery of believing themselves to be somehow better than their fellow men for the least justifiable of reasons.

I am one of those terrible people. I wear Kiton suits even though I am so breathtakingly ugly that no manner of haute couture can make any possible difference. I have a “Black Series” toothbrush. When I saw a fellow racer who happened to be a hugely wealthy fellow from Hong Kong pull out an “Infinite” series Visa card to lay down next to my “Signature” series Visa, I did not rest until I was also in possession of an “Infinite” Visa that was stamped from actual metal instead of merely molded out of plastic. When my plans to acquire a European noble title from some down-and-out distant relatives around the turn of the century foundered, I actually purchased a barony from a (very small, not quite legitimate) country.

There is no activity or purchase too ridiculous for me to undertake in the name of perceived prestige. Or so I thought … until the day I paid $78 dollars to ride in an Uber Select.

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Exploring the Bay Area With Audi on Demand and Getaround

My wife and I visited the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago. Our plan was open-ended and started with a one-way ticket to Oakland and two nights at the Westin in Union Square. Since parking in San Francisco is expensive, we decided to forgo renting a car at the airport and took an Uber into the city.

After exploring the city for a bit, we decided to head up north and visit some wineries. One of the more convenient options to rent a car for the day is the new Audi On Demand service, so we picked up an A4 and headed north.

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  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.
  • ToolGuy Lose a couple of cylinders, put the rest in a straight line and add a couple of turbos. Trust me.
  • ToolGuy Got no money for the Tasman, it is going to the Taxman. 🙁
  • ToolGuy They should have hired some Ford Motor Company employees. No, I'm kidding -- they should have hired some Ford Motor Company executives. 😉