General Motors is preparing to launch its own peer-to-peer car-sharing service this summer, according to Bloomberg. Car owners can list and rent out their own personal cars when they aren’t using them, much like Airbnb users do with their homes and apartments. It’s another sign of the auto industry exploring new ventures as it seeks to insulate itself from changes in vehicle ownership models.
The new peer-to-peer rental service would most likely be launched by Maven, GM’s car-sharing spinoff that’s available in 10 cities across the US. Maven rents cars that it owns to users on a short-term basis. It also has a side business called Maven Gig, through which it lends vehicles to people who want to earn money driving for ride-hail companies like Uber or Lyft, or delivery services like Instacart.
“At Maven, we are always considering new, innovative ways to make sharing easier,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We have no plans to announce at this time.”
In launching a peer-to-peer service, GM would be competing with startups like Turo and Getaround that allow people to list their personal cars for rent. But unlike those companies, GM is a global giant with a market value of almost $53 billion.
That said, a peer-to-peer service isn’t an obvious choice for GM. One could argue that the automaker’s strengths — its manufacturing acumen, its after-market division, and its network of dealerships — aren’t necessarily applicable here.
To make a successful Airbnb-for-cars, GM will need a trustworthy tech platform on which people will feel comfortable listing their cars, and from which customers will feel secure renting these vehicles. Some customers who’ve used Maven have complained that the user experience can be confusing, while the app can be a bit slow. Other users have found the cars available on Maven to be dirty. The company’s service in San Francisco has 1.5 stars on Yelp based on 30 reviews.
It is likely GM is intrigued by the commercial prospects. Turo, which claims about 4 million users in more than 5,000 cities in North America and Europe, says it appeals to travelers because they can find short-term car rentals that are cheaper than those of its corporate peers. The company has raised money from Daimler AG and is currently valued at $700 million. Getaround raised $45 million last April, with Toyota among the companies buying in.