In 2016, under increasing pressure from Silicon Valley to come up with mobility services that appeal to urbanites, General Motors launched its hourly car-sharing service called Maven. While it’s similar to Zipcar, a subscription-based car-sharing service, Maven represents one of the first efforts by a legacy car company to appeal to Millennials and Gen-Xers who aren’t in a rush to purchase a new vehicle.
Maven provides a viable, cost-effective rental option in the eleven cities where it’s currently available: Ann Arbor, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Because Maven vehicles are strategically placed in parking lots and garages around these cities, it can be a good choice for a by-the-hour trip to a big-box store if you don't have a car, or if you’re a tourist wanting to visit a nearby attraction that’s not easily accessed by public transportation.
On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., we took Maven for a test drive. Here’s what we found:
Becoming a user of Maven is extremely easy. Just download the app on your smartphone and register by providing your driver’s license and credit card information. Maven works to approve your account quickly.
Once your account is approved, you can open the app and find cars available for hourly rental near your location (and yes, if the vehicle is available, you can reserve it for more than a day). Maven offers a variety of new, top-of-the-line GM vehicles for rent, including Chevrolet, GMC, Buick ,and Cadillac sedans and SUVs with automatic transmissions. Rates in the D.C. area at the time of our test were between $6.50 and $18 per hour before tax, depending on the model selected, and included insurance up to the state-minimum required levels.
To make a reservation, simply select the start and end dates and times, but be sure to choose the right days—the default is to adjust to the current date. For our test, we rented a Cadillac Escalade, which was the nearest vehicle to our location, at a rate of $18 per hour. We modified the hours of our reservation, too, which was extremely easy through the app.
Let the Test Begin
Maven sent us a detailed pre-trip email that provided specific instructions on where to find our vehicle, which was in an assigned parking space in an alley off K Street. To begin using the vehicle, we simply started the reservation from the app. Our phone worked as the key fob to lock and unlock the car throughout the rental (which can take a few seconds to connect and requires you to keep your phone charged), which was a nice added touch and meant not having to juggle an extra car key. The Escalade was in mint condition inside and out, which was surprising given its dark back-alley parking space next to a dumpster, though it was near our location.
We took the Escalade on an adventure all over D.C. and were pleased with the level of technology and the amenities the vehicle offered. According to Maven, all rental vehicles are equipped with 4G LTE WiFi, and most vehicles come with complimentary SiriusXM satellite radio. Our Escalade also had Apple CarPlay and a charging cord for an iPhone.
Calling it a Day
As required, we parked the car back where we started. After cleaning out our trash—also required by the rental agreement—we opened the app, locked the doors and selected the “end trip” button to complete the rental.
What We Found
In certain circumstances, Maven is a great alternative to a standard car rental or Zipcar experience. Unlike Zipcar, no monthly subscription service is required, so it can be a great way for urban residents to pick up a delivery from Ikea or to get their new TV home from the store without having to pay a delivery fee. It’s also nice for tourists who may need a car to visit an attraction for a couple of hours but don’t want the expense of a rental car for more than a day.
In addition, a gas card is left in the vehicle and the driver is not charged for the fuel unless they go beyond what is on the card—they’re just responsible for returning the car with the same level of gas as when they picked it up. If the vehicle doesn’t have a gas card, fuel costs can potentially be reimbursed by Maven with an itemized receipt. This is a nice bonus when factored in with the lack of a subscription fee and included state-minimum insurance coverage.
Overall, Maven is a great option for a short-duration low-mileage car rental that doesn’t require a subscription, and the app’s connection to General Motors ensures access at convenient locations to new luxury vehicles equipped with the latest technology.