Starting this summer, some GM vehicle owners will be able to rent out their cars to other drivers.
GM is beginning a pilot project in select cities this summer to see if GM owners would like to rent out their cars to prospective drivers. The service would work like Airbnb, only instead of renting out an apartment that’s empty, you’d be renting out a car.
Currently, GM has a car-sharing platform in Maven. It works similarly to other car-sharing services like Zipcar, where GM owns a car that can be rented for short time frames by customers. Simply download the app, select the car you’d like to rent and for how long, and then pick it up and drop it off at the designated location.
Car-sharing is popular in urban settings where people can save the cost of owning a car by just renting one whenever they feel the need. GM’s pilot project takes things a step further by allowing anyone who owns a recent-model GM car to rent out their vehicle when they’re not using it.
The idea to bring Airbnb to the world of cars isn’t a new one. Startups such as Turo and Getaround are currently the largest companies in the growing market space, with Turo’s user count growing to 5,000,000 over the past two years. Both companies have secured millions from established carmakers like Toyota and Daimler AG to fund their growth and ensure that the big names get in on the ground floor.
GM would easily become the largest player in the nascent market--one that’s expected to grow as car prices continue to rise while median incomes stagnate.
As cars become less affordable to more of the population, carmakers are looking for alternative revenue streams to continue their businesses. Most have some form of investment into self-driving cars which promise a future of cars as a service rather than ownership. Hailing a robot car would become simple and ubiquitous in such a future, with riders only paying for perfectly efficient transport to their destination.
With GM expanding Maven to include other GM owners, it allows then to test this car-as-a-service platform with a much larger number of vehicles. Whether it will work without the perfect efficiency promised by robots is something the company, and the rest of the world, will find out this summer.