Maven to Expand Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing to 10 US Cities by December
General Motors' Maven division is expanding a service that lets owners and lessees rent out their cars, Airbnb style. The so-called "peer-to-peer" car-sharing service launched in beta form in Chicago, Detroit, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, earlier this year. According to GM, it will also be available in Baltimore, Boston, Jersey City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., by the end of 2018.
Maven's peer-to-peer car-sharing service lets people rent out their cars by the hour or by the day, and charge users for the privilege. Owners set their own rates within a range determined by Maven, which also takes a cut from each rental. Maven previously said owners could earn hundreds of dollars per month, but the actual amount depends on how much the car is rented out, and how much the owner charges.
Owners can rent out any vehicles from GM's four brands, as long as they are 2015 or newer models, don't have manual transmissions, and don't have uncompleted recall repairs. Both drivers and renters must also go through a vetting process before being allowed to use the service, and GM backs rentals with a $1 million liability insurance policy.
Other services like Turo and Getaround are working the peer-to-peer car sharing angle, but Turo's fights with the City of San Francisco and Utah rental companies show that the concept may face significant opposition from regulators and existing businesses.
Peer-to-peer car sharing will operate alongside Maven's existing services. Maven offers traditional car-sharing using a fleet of vehicles owned by GM, as well as a service that rents cars to drivers working for Uber, Lyft, and other so-called "Gig Economy" companies. Maven claims to have booked over 186,000 reservations, with more than 338 million miles driven.
Kijiji will debut standalone auto-shopping platform
Canadian classifieds site Kijiji has announced a new standalone car-shopping platform: Kijiji Autos.
The platform is separate from the company's existing automotive business (a space it has been in since 2005) and is an all-new automotive research and shopping destination with its own website and app.
"Our goal at Kijiji has always been to help Canadians make connections and to find what they need within their community," Kijiji general manager Matthew McKenzie said in a news release.
"Cars and trucks has always been one of the top categories on Kijiji and we've enabled countless Canadians to buy or sell vehicles for more than a decade," he said. "Through developing a new digital destination, we want to further help in the car buying journey."
McKenzie added: "We recognize that for some, car shopping is really fun, while for others it can be a lot of work.
"Whether you're a less experienced shopper who needs more information and guidance during the car-shopping process, or a car lover who knows what you want and simply want to find it faster, we want Kijiji Autos to help you find to the vehicle for you, through an easy-to-use, transparent and enjoyable user experience."
Sharing more details about the new platform, the company - which is part of the eBay Classifieds Group - said Kijiji Autos is designed to provide an easier, intuitive shopping experience focusing entirely on autos. It will include vehicle recommendations and various search/browse filters.
Kijiji Autos also has plans for features to help promote transparency: dealer ratings/reviews and pre-owned price analysis tool.
"The autos industry has rapidly changed over the last few years and we've worked tirelessly to elevate the brand, develop the right product and partnerships, and assemble the best talent," Kijiji director of autos Leanne Kripp said in a news release. "We constantly ask for feedback from our community of users and dealer partners, and that feedback is what's driven the evolution of our brand.
"What we heard was clear - Canadians want a better car shopping experience. Building on the success and learnings from our eCG family, we felt this was the right moment to do something disruptive in Canada. We're confident that Kijiji Autos will provide a more thoughtful experience for Canadian car shoppers, our dealer partners and private sellers," she said.
Kripp added: "We know that by making it easier for Canadians to shop, we are also making it easier for Canadians to sell. By leveraging the 16.8 (million) monthly users on Kijiji and investing in the growth of the car-focused audience that can exist on Kijiji Autos, we can connect the full spectrum of car shoppers - low-, mid- and high-funnel automotive seekers - to dealers and sellers, creating more opportunities for buyers and sellers to transact successfully in their communities."
MERCEDES-BENZ, GEELY CONSIDERING JOINT RIDE-HAILING SERVICE
Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Smart, is reportedly considering starting a 50-50 joint-venture ride-hailing service with Chinese carmaker Geely.
Sources have told Bloomberg the ride-hailing system would be for the Chinese market.
Daimler is reportedly considering using vehicles from its Denza electric car brand, which itself is a joint venture with BYD and produces EVs based on the first-generation B-Class.
Should the joint venture go ahead, the automakers face an uphill battle to gain significant market share from Didi Chuxing. Although dominant in China, the company is currently under regulatory pressure and is spending big to gain market share in other countries.
Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Geely, acquired a 9.69 per cent stake in Daimler in February this year, making him the largest single shareholder in the German automaker.
Daimler, like some other automakers, has already begun to diversify into mobility services, and currently operates the MyTaxi ride-hailing app, ViaVan ride-pooling service, and Car2Go short-term car hire platform.
Honda invests $2.75B to build driverless car with GM Cruise
Honda Motor Co.'s alliance with General Motors Co.'s self-driving unit creates a formidable trans-Pacific player to develop and build an autonomous vehicle, powered by a $2.75 billion investment from the Japanese automaker.
The tie-up announced Wednesday leapfrogs the smaller Honda from the back of the pack in the race to deploy autonomous vehicles to the market. And it signals a vote of confidence in the self-driving technology developed by GM Cruise LLC, the Detroit automaker's autonomous-vehicle unit.
"For Honda to contribute that amount of money really elevates GM's efforts," said Mike Ramsey, an automotive analyst for research firm Gartner Inc. "This also gives you a sense of how hard it is to develop this technology and these vehicles on your own. GM clearly was willing to do this, and wouldn't do it if they didn't see a true benefit in sharing the cost with another major automaker."
In addition to its expertise in automotive interiors and engineering, Honda is bringing a significant financial investment to the table. It first will make a $750 million equity investment in GM Cruise to take a 5.7 percent stake in the GM division, which has helped the Detroit automaker become a leader in self-driving systems development.
The Japanese automaker also will contribute about $2 billion over 12 years to fund and develop a "purpose-built" autonomous vehicle for Cruise that can serve a variety of uses for global deployment.
Honda had been in talks with Waymo, the self-driving project of Google parent Alphabet Inc., since 2016. As recently as April, Waymo stated that a deal to work with Honda on a delivery-based service was "coming soon."
But Honda executive vice president Seiji Kuraishitold reporters Wednesday that its partnership with GM Cruise was "exclusive."
"We are going forward by leveraging each other's strengths, and would like to expand (in) this business field," he said through an interpreter.
The three-way partnership between Honda, GM and its self-driving unit is designed to equip GM Cruise with "the world's best design, engineering and technology resources to further establish them as a leader in AV technology with global reach and the ability to deploy at scale," CEO Mary Barra said at the company's technical and engineering hub in Warren.
GM and Honda have been working together on fuel-cell technology since 2013, a partnership that was strengthened last year when GM and Honda equally split $85 million in investment to create Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC - the auto industry's first joint-venture for fuel-cell manufacturing - at GM's battery-pack assembly plant in Brownstown Township.
The two automakers expanded their partnership on zero-emissions vehicles earlier this year with an agreement to jointly develop battery cells and modules. In the deal announced Wednesday, the companies will work together to build an autonomous vehicle to be manufactured by GM, not Honda.
Most of the funding provided by Honda will go toward development of that vehicle, with some contribution to develop new market opportunities at Cruise. The partnership will allow GM and Honda to deploy autonomous vehicles across the world, leveraging the geographic footprints of both automakers, GM President Dan Ammann said.
The project with Honda is separate from GM's launch of a driverless ride-service next year, and is focused on building what Ammann called "the next evolution in the future of transportation."
GM already is building test versions of its driverless Cruise AV, based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV, at its Orion Assembly Plant. The roof modules for the vehicles are built at GM's Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant. GM plans to build its production version of the Cruise AV, without a steering wheel or control pedals, at the two plants next year.
"One of the things that is underappreciated in this industry is going from a prototype vehicle that is covered in sensors and computers to one that can be produced on an assembly line," Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt told The Detroit News. "It is no easy task, especially if you want to do that in volume."
But with Honda at the table, that process is expected to move a little faster: "We will be able to take all the things we've learned from (working with GM) and apply them to the vehicle we're building together with Honda," Vogt said. "It shortens the timeline to go from the initial vehicle to a really great one like the one we're envisioning."
The two automakers are aiming to build a driverless car from the ground up, designed from the start to ferry people and things without the need for a driver. GM engineers will work on the base architecture of the autonomous vehicle, with Honda engineers and the Cruise team joining in for its overall development, including testing to ensure safety.
That vehicle might include a tricked-out interior with a TV, mini bar and lay-flat seats, as Vogt wrote in a Wednesday blog post, but it will also likely be engineered to practically operate in Cruise's network.
Vogt told The News that Honda's "talents in building space-efficient vehicles" fit well into GM's ultimate goal of a world without congestion, fossil-fuel emissions or crashes. The two automakers also have complementary global footprints, with Honda offering GM a gateway into the Japanese market.
"If you think about … the geographic reach of Honda and how it overlaps - or doesn't overlap - with the geographic reach of General Motors, that will perhaps give you a perspective on some of the things we might be thinking about," Ammann told investors on a conference call.
Honda's total $2.75 billion investment comes after Japanese investment-firm SoftBank Investment Advisers invested $2.25 billion in Cruise earlier this year, bringing the valuation of GM's autonomous vehicle unit to $14.6 billion.
GM plans to launch its driverless fleet of its Bolt-based Cruise AVs in a yet-to-be-named city in 2019. The Detroit automaker submitted earlier this year its federal safety proposal to put a driverless vehicle with no steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal on public roads. GM's efforts to deploy autonomous vehicles accelerated after its acquisition of Cruise Automation in 2016, earning the Detroit automaker credibility with industry observers and investors.
Ammann said GM's 2019 driverless-fleet launch is still "the target," but did not offer updates on the timetable.
"We are moving as fast as we can to deploy this technology," he said. "Adding the resources is only going to move us further and faster."