By on July 12, 2019

Car2go

After suspending manual background checks to encourage fresh users in April, Daimler subsidiary Car2Go found itself with a problem in Chicago — its new customers were stealing cars by the gross.

On the April 15th, the ride-sharing service notice an uptick in usage that was well above the norm. However, as the day progressed, the company found that a lot of its higher-end vehicles weren’t coming back. Instead, they were convening on Chicago’s West Side. Two days later, the Chicago Police Department announced that it had been notified by Car2Go that some of the company’s vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means and was officially on the prowl for justice.  (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2018

Image: FCA

Lime, the company that sent electric scooters driven by traffic-unaware short-term renters to every corner of the continent, has a new mobility plan. While e-scooters and bikes are great for travelling short distances in the city (a fact many pedestrians and motorists would disagree with), sometimes you need to go up hills, or perhaps travel further — and with more people — than a two-wheeled conveyance would allow.

What to do? Call on an automotive brand that’s desperate for sales, that’s what. Oh, and those aren’t Fiat 500s. They’re LimePods.  (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2018

If you’re a GM owner in one of three American cities, you’re already able to put your vehicle on the short-term rental market. Now, imagine if you could do the same for your lawnmower. And that kid of yours hardly ever uses his skateboard anymore. What about those rollerblades you picked up in 1992 but mothballed due to the stigma? Everything’s a possibility in this age of micro-mobility and peer-to-peer sharing.

General Motors’ Maven mobility arm, which started off renting company-owned vehicles to cash-strapped taxi haters before launching a pilot with privately-owned cars and trucks, now has its eye on your yard care appliances — and who knows what else. (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2018

Cadillac recently made the choice to suspend its vehicle subscription service, claiming the operation hit some costly roadblocks. That’s been our beef with most subscription programs as well, only on the consumer side of the coin. Customers typically end up paying significantly more for access to a fleet of vehicles that, individually, would have been much cheaper to simply buy or lease. Still, the intended draw isn’t saving money, it’s convenience — most subscription services allow customers to swap between select models on the fly, baking in both insurance and maintenance fees.

While these subscription services have been limited to premium nameplates thus far, Toyota wants to try its hand and see how things play out for a mainstream manufacturer. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

Car rentals have evolved rather dramatically in the new millennium. While you can still reserve over the phone before walking into an office to pick up the manager’s special for the agreed upon timeframe, alternatives are many. ZipCar transformed how some people get around an urban environment by allowing customers access to an array of automobiles at hourly rates. Seeing its potential, Avis acquired the company in 2013, expanding its function to include a less stringent return policy via ZipCar Flex.

Meanwhile, Enterprise has its own short-term rental services. Recently, the company has been on a kick to purchase as many mobility firms as it can. Hertz, which has been a little slower to dive into mobility culture, does offer alternatives to traditional rentals in specific markets. It also announced a new strategic partnership with the tech firm Aptiv last July to start testing autonomous fleets this fall.

This, of course, is all taking place in an era where carmakers are launching fleets of their own while attempting to rebrand themselves as data and mobility companies. But surely these rental agencies are just hedging their bets and trying to adopt new tech to better serve their customers. They’re not about to adopt the same tired rhetoric, are they?   (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2018

General Motors Renaissance Center

While we’ve bashed them for being one of the most expensive ways to acquire a vehicle, automotive subscription plans have becoming increasingly popular among premium nameplates. General Motors already has one exclusively for Cadillac but it appears that it’s setting up another for its less illustrious brands.

Late last month, the automaker filed a trademark application to register the name “DriveScription” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The document clearly states that the term will be used in association with the Goods and Services categories of automotive subscription services, rental services, and vehicle sharing. Considering that Maven already handles most of the short-term rental and ride-sharing aspects of GM’s new mobility services, DriveScription is almost certain to be the mainstream equivalent to Book by Cadillac.  (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2018

BMW is trimming some of the fat off its car subscription program after the media collectively realized that paying twice what you would on an average lease didn’t constitute a good deal. Frankly, most car subscription services that exist right now are an incredibly poor value. Bavarian Motor Works was the rule, not the exception.

However, most of these programs are in their infancy and cater to wealthier individuals who get a kick out pestering automakers to submit to their whims by occasionally delivering a new vehicle. It was presumed that those lofty fees would come down as competition ramped up and mainstream automakers entered the fray. That, along with some public criticism of the subscription model, seems to be helping push automakers away from astronomical prices.

That’s not to say the German manufacturer is suddenly offering a bargain alternative to leasing. But if you love the idea of having a car for every occasion and don’t want to deal with insurance agents, Access by BMW has become more affordable.  (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2018

2016 BMW X6, Image: BMW

Automakers are trying everything under the sun to turn a larger profit these days. Building and selling cars is no longer enough. Manufacturers now offer data plans, rental services, lifestyle products, and much more. One of the newest additions to their collective portfolio is the subscription plan — which yields customers a vehicle, insurance, maintenance, and other perks for a monthly fee.

However, as the concept is preparing to enter the mainstream market, the value of such programs have been called into question. While subscription services look like one-stop shopping, often providing users with the ability to swap models throughout the year, their cost effectiveness comes into doubt when one examines the bottom line. We’ve been skeptical for a while but Edmunds recently crunched the numbers to find out for sure.  (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2018

Having already launched the Care by Volvo subscription program, the Swedish-Chinese automotive brand wants to continue cramming feathers into its cap. It’s now launching a new mobility brand that sounds very similar to car-sharing services offered by numerous automakers and rental firms.

There could be an issue with the naming strategy, however. Volvo wants to call the company M, which is a letter of the alphabet that’s of particular interest for BMW. In case you’ve been in a coma for the last forty years, the German automaker has used the letter M (for Motorsport) to denote its performance division and affixes it to everything in its lineup with sporting pretensions. While it probably can’t claim ownership of all things relating to the mark, it’s definitely not going to be thrilled to see Volvo using it. (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2018

2017 Chevrolet Malibu - Image: GM

Only if you choose to, it seems. After launching its Maven ride-sharing service in numerous U.S. cities, as well as Canada’s largest population center, sources claim General Motors wants to expand the service to privately owned vehicles.

In other words, you’ll be able to make your own GM car available via the automaker’s app-based Maven service, generate income from short-term renters, while GM takes part of the cut. If the plan goes ahead, let’s hope your renters aren’t as slovenly as these ones. (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2018

koenigsegg agera

The former digital chief of Credit Suisse, Marco Abele, intends to introduce an app allowing wealthy individuals to share ownership of experiential assets — things like vineyards, works of art, and even fine automobiles.

Abele calls the digital service a “blockchain-based investment platform,” which is just a bullshit businessman buzzword way to say there will be a transaction ledger. By keeping things transparent, the group’s owners can ensure nobody gets financially burned when someone drives a shared $300,000 Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo into a barricade.

At any rate, it sounds like communism for rich people.  (Read More…)

By on February 2, 2018

Car2Go

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. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

smart-cabrio

Daimler announced in February that it would stop sending gasoline-powered models to North America this summer and move exclusively to EVs after inventory levels decline. Dealers had until the end of June to decide if they wanted to be a part of the next wave of personal mobility.

With Smart swapping to electric-only drivetrains for U.S. retailers, we assumed the majority of Mercedes-Benz dealers still clinging onto the microscopic Fortwo would abandon it — as would every standalone Smart store still in existence.

Smart only sold 54 electric models within the United States between January and May, so it’s understandable that this summer saw over two-thirds of all retailers opting out of the deal. That leaves Smart with only 27 sanctioned stores within the United States, making it more exclusive than Lotus, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and even Rolls-Royce.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

maven freelancer

Car sharing is one of the cornerstones of automakers’ newfound focus on mobility solutions. It’s a brave new world for vehicle manufacturers, but it’s also a brave new world for consumers. With roughly 22 million American’s underemployed — that’s people with jobs that don’t provide adequate income, full-time hours, or exist outside the hire’s experience/education — many people have taken on part-time work to fill in the gaps.

Taking advantage of this unique workforce, Maven, General Motors’ mobility arm, is launching Maven Gig, providing part-timers with weekly access to its fleet of Bolt EVs. Gig functions similarly to Maven City and GM’s Express Drive partnership with Lyft, but is specifically designed for renters who don’t own a vehicle and might want to spend a week delivering pizza or working for a ride-hailing service on an extremely limited basis.

An interesting idea, but a bit of an odd duck at $229 a week. GM is pitching it as a way to “enable freelancers to earn income through multiple sources.”  (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

2015_Toyota_Prius_c_007

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. (Read More…)

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