In this final installment of our interview with Maven General Manager for New York, Brent Taylor, we touch on how far the car sharing platform will accommodate for other fees like tolls, the future of the One-Way program, how the vehicles are maintained, and if Maven can help solve GM’s inventory glut.
GM Authority: Have you guys done any research on seeing who has a Maven app and if they have other ride sharing apps or car sharing apps like Zip car? Or do they have both Uber and Lyft apps, or a Turo app, or something like that?
Brent Taylor: I’ll have to refer you to Ty (Maven Spokesperson). We’re not breaking into people’s phones and seeing what else is on there.
Ty: We’re actively receiving member feedback, and they’re often quick to tell us what they like and don’t like about a product. They haven’t so much provided that information about what other apps they’re using yet, but certainly it’s probably more of a marketing play in terms of trying to compare what apps other people are using. So, we haven’t found that path too much.
GMA: Have you guys been able to flesh out a main demographic yet? Have you guys figured out the type of person that mostly is using the service.
BT: Up to this point, the millennials have been the main adopter of Maven. NYC actually offers a whole different experience for Maven in the fact that it doesn’t matter how old you are it’s still very expensive to own a car in the city. So, we have both people graduating college and just moving here for the first time as well as the family with a stroller on the upper West side that still needs to hit the box store on the weekends, so I think as we move out and as Maven branches it’s going to become more of a household name. But it has been an early adopter for the millennial crowd.
GMA: I’m staying in Jersey, and I’m constantly having to pay for Lincoln Tunnel tolls and the like, is Maven going to accommodate for things like tolls and private roads, things like that?
BT: What’s included in your hourly rate with Maven is going to be your gas, your insurance, and the car itself obviously. Tolls, while we’ll provide an EZ Pass transponder to the vehicle, depending on where the car is based… our Boston group, our NYC group, our Washington DC group… all have EZ Pass transponders on the vehicle. Then on the back-end you will be billed for each time. Obviously if you’re coming in from Jersey, you know what that cost is in the Holland tunnel. And I’ve got a small fleet in Jersey city, of Volts, so if you’d ever like to try one out…
GMA: I wanted to try Maven One-Way. Is that exclusive to Detroit, or is that in other regions as well?
BT: Currently Detroit and Ann Arbor are the two that are offering Maven One-Way.
Ty: Maven One-Way is more or less a pilot right now. It’s, again, something that we’ve heard from members that they really like and that they want to see more of. We’re exploring.
GMA: What’s the take on that? Because to me, I think that’s huge, especially if you’re a business traveler. Because if I can avoid the parking my car and paying for parking, I rather pay for the service. Especially in a situation with Detroit Metro, where it’s maybe a half hour drive. That’s not expensive. It would cost me more even to use a ride share, like Uber or Lyft, versus the cost just to park my car for the amount of time that I’m here, it’s almost the same. But a service like that, it spikes the cost down pretty drastically.
BT: It is great. Being the share model and knowing where the car’s going to end so we can know what our expectation is for the next use case on the vehicle, that really ties on and we kind of have to understand those trends and just the basic logistics behind it before, I would say, something like that would be prevalent in NYC. But I know a lot of people are looking into what’s going on in Ann Arbor and if that’s a scalable opportunity.
GMA: The whole generation underneath millennials, they same to be even less interested in driving. And I think at that point, when they’re ready to drive and have had enough money to purchase a vehicle, it’s probably going to have a lot of autonomous technology taking hold. Are you guys studying that market? And how early are you trying to get in there? Because I can see this as being part of the next generation of driver’s education curriculum… how to use a car share, or ride share.
BT: That’s really the exciting part of coming to GM based on what you just said, and GM’s true understanding that that is the landscape and that’s where the future is. Our VP (Julia Steyn) has said her 9-year old son may never get his driver’s license, and GM’s really embracing that, and I think what Maven is doing is giving us the building blocks for that future of autonomous vehicle and combining that with electrification is, I think, really the future landscape of the industry and general motors.
GMA: Even though the urban landscape makes a perfect setting for Maven, I can also see it as, with the right vehicles in mind, a good rural vehicle solution. Say you need a truck to haul mulch to your house, or something, and you happen to not have one.
BT: And you wouldn’t have to even smell the mulch! I don’t want to go way outside of my wheelhouse, but agricultural, and there’s a lot of applications where that technology really makes sense. Just like the Bolt EV plug-in, I think GM is going to be able to be at the forefront of that based on what they learn from Maven.
GMA: Can Maven be used as a solution to tackle GM’s ongoing problem of inventory glut? Can you circulate vehicles that are otherwise not making GM any money at all? Put them into the Maven fleet, should it be big enough, and could you bring inventory down that way, and that way you kind of made a way to monetize product that was sitting still.
BT: Well I certainly couldn’t speak for production, and that would be a whole different category of GM, but everything you’re saying makes a lot of sense. And I’m sure that there’s somebody looking at that very closely right now in the Renaissance Center.
Ty: I think what Maven’s also trying to do is keep newer products in front of the customers, and so if you’re starting to talk about vehicles that are 3, 4, 5 years old it may not make a whole lot of sense in the Maven model, but certainly, like Brent was saying, I’m sure people in product are looking at these vehicles that are 2, 3 years old even that are being underutilized, and maybe, if there is a home for them in Maven
GMA: What about performance cars? I figure if someone has a performance car, they’ve probably bought it, and it’s their baby and they take care of it. But there’s also people that would rather just try it out one time. They get that crazy itch, they want to scratch it, and then they’re fine.
BT: I would love to see a performance vehicle within the Maven family. Right now as we’re launching, we’re sticking with more of the core market. And then you operate and you’re familiar with this area, if you’re operating like a Brooklyn, NY where the streets aren’t always agreeable… ground clearance… that would make a job like mine just a complete challenge to service those vehicles. But that said, where it does make sense, like a Los Angeles, where the streets are just glassy, I can definitely see those deployments.
GMA: You touched on maintenance. Where are these vehicles being maintained? Is it the dealer network?
BT: It really depends. Obviously if we just have glass it’s going to be a mobile glass vendor that comes out and fixes it. And really, getting the vehicles back into service in a safe fashion is our main priority. Any sort of service issue, we will send the car into one of the GM networks of dealers, and each local market has good relationships with their local dealership network, and kind of geographically dispersed the vehicles for their preventative maintenance or some sort of collision or something like that.
GMA: Do you see the dealer network playing a more pivotal role as you guys grow?
BT: Absolutely, we’ll rely on the dealer network for the integrity of our vehicles, to keep them up and running and in the service months that are our expectation for the fleet. So far they’ve embraced the Maven brand in putting our cars up in the bays, and we think it’s a great relationship.