GM — like Ford — has dabbled in car sharing, but it's expanding that effort today with the announcements of two new programs, including one launching today in New York City. (Details on that are still forthcoming.) The second program will launch "in another US city" in the first quarter of 2016.
Automaker-supported car-sharing programs seem counterintuitive in that they undermine a company's ability to sell more cars, but if you assume that they're inevitable — and in light of ever-increasing urbanization, they almost certainly are — the prevailing logic is that it probably makes some sense to get out ahead of it and own the programs that customers are using. By all appearances, GM is on the cusp of going all-in on that.
A partnership with someone like Google isn't out of the question
There's some harmony between this announcement and that of GM's new autonomous driving efforts: the company is pushing hard on its experience with connectivity through the multi-decade deployment of OnStar, most recently with its broad rollout of LTE to practically every car it sells. It seems that there's a push to unify all three initiatives, so that customers could summon shared self-driving cars parked throughout a city. In that regard, it could end up going head-to-head with everyone from Uber, to Google, to Apple. Would it be open to partnering with one of the big players, particularly in light of the fact that it's partnered with Google in the past? "We're always looking for the right kind of partnerships and there are always great opportunities to collaborate with those partners," Mark Reuss, GM's executive VP of global product development, tells me. It's a boilerplate response, yes — but it's also telling that GM isn't precious about doing this all by itself.
It's not just cars, though: GM is also showing an e-bike this morning, designed and developed in-house, that "designed to help people stay mobile in an increasingly difficult-to-navigate urban landscape." Automakers have something of a habit of developing next-gen bicycles: Ford has shown several in recent months, an acknowledgement that cars aren't always the best way to get around in cities — and that automakers want in on the action.