There is a surprising and well-funded major new player in the networked transportation business: General Motors (NYSE: GM). The largest U.S.-based automaker has launched a new app-based car-sharing service and purchased what is left of defunct American ridesharing service Sidecar.

GM is apparently beta-testing a short car rental service called Maven in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Los Angeles Times reported. Maven is a smartphone app that will allow customers to unlock and drive GM vehicles that will be parked on the streets for public use.

The service is similar to that offered by the popular American company that is part of car rental giant Avis-Budget Group (NASDAQ: CAR). Zipcar allows people to rent cars on a short-term basis by using a Zipcard, similar to a credit card, that unlocks vehicles.

Maven will apparently let customers rent vehicles without a card. The first customers will be students at the University of Michigan, which is based in Ann Arbor.

It is not clear if GM is entering the car rental business or simply testing a new service. General Motors would be a formidable competitor in the car-sharing business because it owns such iconic motor brands as Vauxhall, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Opal and Buick. It also had $23.46 billion (€21.59 billion) in the bank on September 30, 2015.

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GM Buys What’s Left of Sidecar

GM also purchased the assets and technology of the defunct American ridesharing company Sidecar Technologies Inc., Bloomberg reported. Sidecar shut down in December because it was unable to compete with Lyft and Uber Technologies Inc.

Sidecar’s assets cost GM around $39 million (€35.89 million), according to Bloomberg. In addition to the assets, GM has hired around 20 Sidecar employees, including cofounder and CTO Jahan Khanna.

The Sidecar deal is in addition to General Motor’s $500 million (€480.17 million) investment in Uber’s archrival Lyft Inc. Media reports indicate that GM and Lyft plan to collaborate on a self-driving car project.

Auto Companies Becoming Transportation Companies

These deals provide a glimpse of automakers’ possible future as providers of transportation rather than marketers of automobiles. The deals will enable GM to develop its own networked transportation solutions and to better serve companies such as Uber in the future.

Such deals could also help preserve the ridesharing market if companies like Uber get forced out of business by regulators or lawsuits. GM is one of a number of auto companies that offers special financing arrangements for Uber and Lyft drivers in the United States.

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General Motors is not the only automaker taking such precautions; Ford has entered into an alliance with Google and developed its own ridesharing app, called Dynamic Shuttle. Ford and Uber have also tested self-driving cars in Arizona. Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIY), the parent of Mercedes Benz, acquired two German ridesharing apps called RideScout and mytaxi in 2014, Bloomberg reported.

One in Four Younger Americans Does Not Drive

Automakers are concerned because the number of Americans that hold drivers’ licenses is falling. The Wall Street Journal reported that around 77% of U.S. residents between 20 and 24 were licensed to drive cars in 2014, down from 80% in 2011.

That means nearly one in four Americans in that age group does not drive. To make matters worse, only 60% of 18-year-olds in the U.S. had a driver’s license in 2014, down from 80% in 1983.

Nor is it just younger people who are driving less; the number of Americans in their 50s and 60s without drivers’ licenses increased by three percent between 2008 and 2014. The number of elderly people that are physically no longer able to drive is also increasing.

Networked transportation solutions such as ride- and car-sharing are ways for automakers to serve those that do not own cars or drive. Another reason for Maven is to put GM cars at colleges is so people under 24 can become familiar with them.

It looks as if automakers and networked transportation companies are slowly coming together. These industrial companies are slowly evolving into service companies that will provide both vehicles and transportation in the future.

 

 

https://i2.wp.com/geekcrunch.reviews/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/c7eaae3634d387614a61b5acec2e31d9.jpg?fit=367%2C275&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/geekcrunch.reviews/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/c7eaae3634d387614a61b5acec2e31d9.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Daniel JenningsInvestmentsGeneral Motors,GM Rental Car,Lyft,Maven,Networked Transportation,Ridesharing,Sidecar,UberThere is a surprising and well-funded major new player in the networked transportation business: General Motors (NYSE: GM). The largest U.S.-based automaker has launched a new app-based car-sharing service and purchased what is left of defunct American ridesharing service Sidecar. GM is apparently beta-testing a short car rental service called...From A Geek to a Geek