General Motors Company (GM) Plans Airbnb-Like Program For Car Owners

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Testing will take place through GM's Maven platform, which is where owners will put their vehicles up for rent online and share the financial proceeds with the automaker. Rather than using its own fleet of cars, Maven would bring in current auto owners, GM would have access to many more vehicles without having to own and maintain them.

GM is said to be preparing its pilot program for this summer, suggesting it will be a traditional car-sharing service rather than relying on self-driving operation.

Tesla has envisioned a peer-to-peer service that allows owners to make money from their vehicle while it would otherwise be wasting time in the garage or in a parking lot. Maven is already operating a program that rents vehicles directly to drivers. This is basically like Airbnb for cars.

Start-ups Turo and Getaround are two bigger names in the space, although GM dwarfs both upstarts with its market value of nearly US$53 billion.

The firm raised US$92 million in a funding round in September previous year led by Germany's Daimler AG and South Korea's SK Holdings Co, which valued Turo at about US$700 million. Getaround raised $45 million last April, with Toyota among the companies buying in. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also expressed interest in the idea which he believes will "dramatically [lower] the true cost of ownership to the point where nearly anyone could own a Tesla".

GM has already charted the ride share waters, ever since it initiated the Maven program back in January 2016. The company's service in San Francisco has 1.5 stars on Yelp based on 30 reviews. The American Car Rental Association, a lobbying group for companies including Enterprise Holdings Inc. and Hertz Global Holdings Inc., is pushing lawmakers to eliminate what it sees as unfair loopholes from taxes that its members have to pay and that car-sharing companies have avoided.

Earlier this month, GM announced it would be offering a fleet of 20 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles for use by freelance drivers in Austin, Texas.

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