GM car rental ser­vice hits L.A.

Uber, Lyft driv­ers in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia are part of the tar­get mar­ket for the of­fers.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Charles Flem­ing charles.flem­ing @la­times.com

The pro­gram of­fers f lat-rate weekly deals to driv­ers in such sec­tors as ride-hail­ing and food de­liv­ery.

Maven Gig, the GMbased weekly car rental ser­vice, has come to Los Angeles.

The pro­gram, which started Thurs­day, of­fers ride-hail­ing driv­ers for ser­vices such as Uber and Lyft and de­liv­ery driv­ers for com­pa­nies such as GrubHub and Roadie ac­cess to fla­trate weekly deals on GM cars.

The deals, de­signed in part to put more elec­tric cars on roads, in­clude a ve­hi­cle, un­lim­ited mileage, in­sur­ance and free main­te­nance. The driv­ers must pay for fuel and, in case of ac­ci­dents, in­sur­ance de­ductibles. If they want to rent a Bolt EV, Maven Gig will pay for the elec­tric­ity to make it run.

Pric­ing starts at $189 a week for a Chevy Cruze and climbs to $229 a week for a Bolt EV. Chevy’s Mal­ibu, Trax and Im­pala cars are also avail­able. All are sub­ject to a 7.5% tax, Maven said. Why L.A.? “We’re try­ing to fo­cus our mar­kets where there is a strong po­ten­tial for gig econ­omy earn­ings,” said Rachel Bhat­tacharya, chief growth of­fi­cer for Maven Gig.

Maven Gig hopes to have 1,000 ve­hi­cles on the road un­der the new pro­gram by the end of the year, Bhat­tacharya said — 200 of them the bat­tery-elec­tric Bolts.

GM has also brought Maven Gig to San Diego and San Fran­cisco. Due to get the ser­vice by this fall, the com­pany said, are Bos­ton, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. Bal­ti­more and Detroit will fol­low by the end of the year, Bhat­tacharya said.

Ear­lier this year, the app­based par­ent ser­vice Maven be­gan of­fer­ing Bolt EVs to An­ge­lenos on a per-hour ba­sis. Ex­ec­u­tives had char­ac­ter­ized South­ern Cal­i­for­nia as a key lo­cale in GM’s ef­fort to sell more elec­tric cars.

“Los Angeles is a very im­por­tant mar­ket for us, be­cause it pro­vides all of the unique mo­bil­ity chal­lenges that a city can have,” Ju­lia Steyn, vice pres­i­dent of Gen­eral Mo­tors Ur­ban Mo­bil­ity and Maven, told the Los Angeles Times. “And it’s a very fer­tile ground to in­tro­duce an all-elec­tric ve­hi­cle.”

GM cars are also avail­able for lease out­side the Maven pro­grams. Lo­cal deal­ers are cur­rently of­fer­ing the Bolt EV for as lit­tle as $159 a month, on three-year leases, af­ter sign­ing costs. But those leases in­clude mileage re­stric­tions, and may not in­clude in­sur­ance.

Sev­eral ride-hail­ing driv­ers said the Maven Gig of­fer was too ex­pen­sive to at­tract pro­fes­sional driv­ers, who’d be bet­ter off buy­ing or leas­ing cars for a lower monthly rate.

Ob­serv­ing the $800- to $1,000-per-month rental rate, vet­eran taxi, Uber and Lyft driver Gabe Ets-Hokin, of San Fran­cisco, said: “It prob­a­bly doesn’t make sense if driv­ing was a part­time or sec­ond job.”

Richard Colavin, who drives for Lyft and Uber in the San Diego area, said: “It’s al­most a good deal, but it feels like they’re giv­ing you a car to drive, but that you might not make any real money.”

The Maven Gig pro­gram is de­signed for driv­ers who may not want to lease a car, or may not be able to.

“The pain point we saw in the mar­ket was that twoyear or three-year com­mit­ment” for a tra­di­tional au­to­mo­bile lease, Bhat­tacharya said.

The tar­get driver for the new pro­gram is some­one who “wants to drive full time, but not for a long pe­riod of time.” That might in­clude a col­lege grad­u­ate whose pro­fes­sional life hasn’t be­gun yet, or some­one re­cently re­tired look­ing for a new part­time job.

Qual­i­fied driv­ers must be 21 or older and have a clean driv­ing record, and must be able to pony up the cost of one week’s rental.

Paul San­cya As­so­ci­ated Press

GEN­ERAL MO­TORS Corp. has ex­panded Maven Gig, its car rental pro­gram, to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Fran­cisco. Com­pany ex­ec­u­tives see South­ern Cal­i­for­nia as a key lo­ca­tion to sell more elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

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