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GM Launches New Car-Sharing Service Maven

Move follows big investments in ride-sharing firms Lyft, Sidecar.

by on Jan.21, 2016

A motorist uses a smartphone to line-up a short-term rental from the new Maven service.

General Motors apparently hopes to become an industry maven when it comes to alternative mobility programs. After investing in two ride-sharing services, Lyft and Sidecar, this month, the Detroit automaker says it will start a new car-sharing company called Maven – a Yiddish word for “expert.”

GM is just one of a growing number of automakers who are looking for alternative ways to appeal to potential customers at a time when younger consumers seem less interested in owning a vehicle. Both Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand and Ford Motor Co. are making similar forays, Ford CEO Mark Fields saying his goal is to transform the smaller Detroit maker into a “mobility” company.

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“With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future,” GM President Dan Ammann said.

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Ford Pursues Carsharing, Other “Multi-Modal” Alternatives

But will they cut into core car sales?

by on Dec.11, 2015

One of the new Ford GoRide vans.

When workers at the sprawling Ford Motor Co. campus in Dearborn, Michigan need to run from building to building for meetings they normally have to drive. But Ford is firing up a new program that should make it simpler and quicker to get around.

As part of the Dynamic Shuttle Project, the maker is fielding a fleet of 21 modified Ford Transit vans. They’re operating like a cross between a bus system and the increasingly popular Uber ride-share service, helping 100s of employees schedule rides through a smartphone app.

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Last January, Ford announced it was studying 25 different alternative mobility projects. It has now narrowed that down to a handful that are going into operation in places as diverse as Dearborn, London, Mumbai and even The Gambia, one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa.

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GM Wants to Profitably Redefine Personal Mobility

CEO Barra outlines $5 bil investment in autonomous vehicles, carsharing and other game-changers.

by on Oct.01, 2015

GM is "working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility," says CEO Barra.

With autonomous vehicles, car-sharing programs and alternative powertrains reshaping the auto industry, some manufacturers have begun referring to themselves as “personal mobility companies.” The challenge is finding a way to profit from that transformation, said General Motors CEO Mary Barra, as she opened the maker’s “Global Business Conference” with investors and financial analysts.

General Motors is exploring ways to expand the services it offers customers around the world and expects to invest $5 billion in the effort as part of an effort to meet the competition from new challengers such as Apple, Google and Tesla,  Barra said, during the conference at the GM Proving Grounds an hour outside Detroit.

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“We’re working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility,” Barry explained, adding that “We want to own that relationship inside and outside the vehicle.”

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Nissan, Enterprise Team Up on New College Carsharing Program

Japanese maker hopes to turn renters into buyers.

by on Aug.11, 2015

Nissan will partner with Enterprise in a bid to reach Millennials through carsharing.

Nissan is teaming up with Enterprise, the largest U.S. car rental service, in a new carsharing service that, it hopes, will eventually transform renters into shoppers.

Enterprise CarShare will target 90 college campuses across the country and, at a price of $5 an hour, could provide an alternative to fast-growing ride services like Uber and Lyft. Nissan will supply up to 25 vehicles on some campuses, 300 all told.

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“The Enterprise CarShare program offers a convenient way for college students, faculty and staff to enjoy an extended test drive of a wide range of Nissan vehicles and to experience ‘Innovation that excites’ firsthand,” said Nissan U.S. sales chief Fred Diaz in a statement.

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Use of Car-Sharing Programs Set for 550% Jump

New study predicts 12 mil will use services by 2020.

by on Sep.19, 2013

When they need a car, a growing number of Millennials are turning to carsharing services.

If you want to get a hint about the potential for car-sharing programs consider that Hertz, Avis and other traditional rent-a-car firms have purchased pioneers in the short-term rental market, such as ZipCar, over the last couple years.

And, apparently, such moves will be well rewarded, a new study predicting that the number of members subscribing to car-sharing services will surge by more than 550% before the end of this decade – from the current 2.3 million to more than 12 million.

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Global revenues are expected to grow even more rapidly, forecasts Navigant Research, jumping from an anticipated $1 billion this year to $6.2 billion in 2020.

Car-sharing services offer an alternative to the traditional vehicle rental approach by targeting those who might have need of a vehicle for as little as an hour, rather than those who want one for a day or more.  In most cases, customers access vehicles at unmanned lots or even at reserved, street-side parking spots.

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Carsharing Could Become Big Business for Daimler, Says CEO

Mercedes’ parent sees global opportunity to supplement conventional car, truck sales.

by on Apr.12, 2013

A Smart car in Berlin, part of Daimler's car2go carsharing service.

After so-so sales during the first quarter, Daimler AG has deferred making any kind of prediction on its first quarter profits from its core automobile and truck business.

However, while Daimler declined to offer revised income and sales forecasts, CEO Dieter Zetsche did tout the success of the company’s fledgling carsharing service, which going forward will serve as the anchor for a new business unit that could bring in as much as $100 million in revenue next year.

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“We see great potential in the expansion of our business operations in the area of innovative mobility services,” Zetsche said. “The car2go (service) made us the world’s fastest-growing provider of carsharing services. In fact, the number of car2go customers has increased roughly fivefold since January 2012. Altogether we have more than 300,000 customers in 18 major cities in Europe and North America,” he noted this week.

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Car Buyers Crave Connectivity

New study finds motorists want connected cars – and also want to shop more online.

by on Mar.26, 2013

Motorists want their cars to deliver the sort of connected technologies they already have in homes, offices and on smartphones.

Automakers who want to connect with their customers have to make sure they offer the latest in connected car technology, according to a new study.

Buyers don’t want to differentiate between what technology they can access behind the wheel from what they already have in their homes, offices – or on their smartphones, according to a report by consulting firm Capgemini.

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That extends to the buying process, the study of 8,000 consumers from eight countries revealed. Buyers are more and more focused on the web when it comes to gathering information on the vehicles they’re likely to buy. And dealers and manufacturers who don’t embrace that – and respond quickly to online shoppers – will likely lose sales.

“Especially for young buyers, this is what pulls them in,” Michael Boruszok, vice president of Capgemini’s automotive practice, tells TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Ford Sets Up European Carsharing Operation

Move could help offset slumping sales.

by on Mar.06, 2013

Ford and its German dealers set up a new nationwide carsharing service, Ford2Go.

A new survey indicates that 56% of the motorists queried in a half-dozen European countries would consider using a carsharing service rather owning a vehicle of their own – something that seems to reflect recent trends among younger buyers and a general malaise in the European automotive market.

So, if you’re struggling to grow your retail sales, Ford Motor Co. appears to have concluded, look for other options. And one of the solutions Ford has come up with is to set up its own carsharing service in Germany.

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Ford2Go is the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide carsharing program in Europe to incorporate traditional new car dealerships. Ford2Go was organized as a partnership among Ford of Germany, the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH, and DB Rent GmbH – the company behind Flinkster carsharing.

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Millennials Will Hand You Their Car Keys – But Don’t Take Their Cellphones, Finds New Survey

They’d just as soon stay home to shop – or meet with friends.

by on Mar.05, 2013

When they need a car, a growing number of Millennials will turn to carsharing services.

Forget guns – or car keys – it’s the cellphone you’ll have to pry out of the cold, dead hand of the typical Millennial, according to a new survey.

Brought up on social media, they’re as likely as not to stay home and text friends as drive over for a night out, found KRC Research, which conducted its survey for Zipcar, the largest of the U.S. carsharing services.

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The bottom line: By a more than two-to-one margin, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 would be more likely to have a meltdown if you took their cellphone than their car keys. A full 65% said that losing their phone or computer would have a major, negative impact on their lives. Only 28% felt that about losing their car.

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BMW Is Plugged In – But Not Charged Up – About Battery Cars

Launches new EV car sharing program, but predicts marginal battery car sales.

by on Aug.22, 2012

San Franciscans can now rent a BMW ActiveE using a smartphone app.

BMW is plugging into the nascent electric vehicle market.  But that doesn’t mean it’s all that charged up about the technology’s opportunities, especially in the U.S., near-term.

Perhaps the best opportunity to create a market, the maker appears to be betting, is through non-traditional marketing efforts, such as the new DriveNow car-sharing service it has partnered with in San Francisco.

Without significant new incentives, senior BMW executives caution, direct EV sales to consumers will likely remain little more than an asterisk on the sales charts.

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With little fanfare, BMW quietly began letting DriveNow begin renting out its new 3-Series-based ActiveE battery-electric vehicle in late June.  At a growing number of automated locations in the city – with a center coming at San Francisco International Airport – motorists can pick up an ActiveE and use it for as little as a half hour or keep it for several days.

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