There is a lot of talk in the automotive industry about mobility solutions. It’s a nebulous term that describes car-sharing and ride-hailing services like Uber and Zipcar. Automakers are increasingly using the term as they explore new revenue streams at a time when there are shifting attitudes toward car ownership, especially in urban centers where owning a car isn’t always practical. For General Motors, mobility solutions include Maven, its car-sharing service, and Cruise Automation, GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary that’ll so launch a ride-hailing service. GM/Maven’s Smart Cities Chief Alex Keros recently penned a LinkedIn article about his vision for future mobility solutions that include a litany of players and solutions.
The LinkedIn article further solidified Maven’s commitment to the Shared Mobility Principles, guidelines for urban decision-makers and stakeholders who are working toward designing cities that work for everyone. What’s interesting about the principles is its stance against cars in favor of people. One of the core principles is “Cities shall discourage the use of cars, single-passenger taxis, and other oversized vehicles transporting one person.” That’s bad news for General Motors. However, that’s where Maven comes into play.
Keros laid out several desires Maven has for the future of mobility, including working with city leaders to meet community needs in the mobility space. The desires are ambitious, and would best work in a world where government entities at all levels worked far more efficiently than they do today. Keros’ post is ambitious is its idealized view of the future, but is also disheartening. If private companies, non-profit organizations, government entities, and community members could work together, the resulting mobility solutions could be astounding, giving cities back to the people instead of cars and congestion.
That’s a core tenet of Keros’ post, too—the shared and efficient use of vehicles, lanes, curbs, and land. If a city wants to refocus on its citizens, that means minimizing the importance of the personal vehicle or at least maximizing its use. For many people, a car is something that sits parked more than it’s being used. While it’s sitting there, Maven could facilitate its use for someone else, cutting down on the number of personal vehicles needed in a city.
The rise of car-sharing and ride-hailing services will only grow in the coming years as more people move to densely populated urban centers. That will also increase congestion and pollution. With limited space, local, state, and federal governments will have to work with companies to maximize city access to everyone through mobility solutions like Maven. Though it’ll only work if everyone is on the same page, and Keros’ post at least lays out an ambitious plan for that future.