Brent Taylor is the New York General Manager for the upstart Maven brand. In this first installment of the three-part, 45-minute interview, Taylor goes into detail on the progress Maven has made thus far, how customers are using the platform, and how vested General Motors is in the car-sharing brand’s success. Please enjoy the insightful words below.
GM Authority: How’s the launch of Maven going?
Brent Taylor: In 15 months of Maven’s existence, the growth has been phenomenal. Seventeen markets launched and operational. We have 109+ million miles logged in Maven cars at this point, 42,000+ logged reservations, 33,500+ members currently on the platform, so really what we’re finding is that when people sign up for the app and for the Maven service, and as a benefit to them, that’s free of charge. There’s no membership or application fee. Once they use the product they’re fairly hooked on it and they come back to us, and it’s really grown out with that core, early-adopter audience. And it’s spreading from there. New York is next, and we’ll be launching the NY market, looking at mid-May.
GMA: What are the vehicles currently in the Maven fold being used for?
BT: It differs from market to market. There’s some markets where vehicle ownership is not as prohibitive as, say, in NYC. So, multiple applications – people are using it on campus in Ann Arbor. We have film crews using it in Los Angeles. And in NYC where vehicle ownership is extremely costly with some of the highest parking, insurance and fuel prices in the country. Basically, the Maven product is going to be an alternative to vehicle ownership. So, people going to box storage on the weekends, people going to Jersey to see their parents, want to get to upstate or the Hamptons, really Maven is a really great fill-in-the-blank on that mobility solution.
GMA: In regards to the cost of parking, I know that Maven tends to have reserve parking spaces. How does the parking strategy work? Do you guys work out any sort of deal with the garage, or do you guys have to negotiate that sort of thing?
BT: We have fairly good relationships with the garage operators. We’re a good customer; we pay on time so we’ve had a very good reaction with the garages, especially the ones we have national agreements with as well. And we think about that when we’re deploying fleets; what makes sense here, what can be accommodated there… and you’re talking about the full suite of GM products. A Tahoe won’t fit in a lot of garages in NYC, so we have to be mindful. It’s that and we really take a lot of that into our strategy, and it really caters from market to market as a custom. Each one, they don’t just go into a city and dump a bunch of cars. It’s well thought out, “What is the deployment strategy versus that cost of deployment?”
GMA: The vehicles that are being deployed, are they fresh from the factory? Or are they certified pre-owned? Or is it a mix?
BT: We have a little bit of a mixture of both. We have some that are previously leased vehicles, and we have some that are brand-new off the line. In NYC we’ll be deploying a fleet of Cruze hatchbacks, which is a brand-new model, so those will come straight from the line to the market. But they’re all basically, fairly new vehicles, low-mileage if they did come from previous activity.
GMA: What happens to them after their life in the Maven fleet?
BT: After their life in the Maven fleet they go and they’re sold off to the general public.
BT: Yes, they’re generally sent to auctions and sold off that way.
GMA: Where do you see the future of the car-sharing business? And where do you see Maven in that business?
BT: Maven’s real focus, or GM’s focus, as a whole, is really having the share of miles driven. So, whether that’s traditional vehicle ownership, whether it’s car-share, or whether it’s ride-share, Maven is really the forefront of establishing GM’s position in the future of mobility solutions. And really the data that we’re getting from Maven and utilization trends, miles per trip, are ultimately going to help GM build better vehicles that cater to, you know, when you have a plug-in electric only vehicle and range anxiety – how far is the average trip? What makes sense where? And that’s really the future of it, and it’s cool to see this hundred-year-old company with this start-up within it, trying to figure out, ‘cause the company understands that the dynamics are changing, and vehicle technology in the past 5, 10 years – the landscape looks way different than it did 15 years ago.
GMA: When you say the start-up within a hundred year-old company, is GM treating it as a fun science project, or are they really serious?
BT: I can tell you personally I wouldn’t be here if it was the first. It was my initial question in the Maven process. Detroit is extremely vested in Maven. The enthusiasm that we’ve gotten from the leadership was really what drew me to the Maven product. So, no, this is a real thing for GM and they’re investing a lot of resources to it.
GMA: Who would you say, among the GM leadership, has been the most vocal in getting mobility solutions? Accelerating mobility solutions through GM?
BT: Straight from the top there are our CEOs [who] really brought GM into a technology-based world, which paved the way for something like Maven to exist. From Dan Ammann, who kind of oversees that, and Julia Steyn, the Maven VP. Really there’s a direct line of communication from Maven to the sea level and they’re really watching Maven, as far as what’s going on, what are these usage trends and how are they changing.