Car-sharing membership has grown in North America from 200,000 members in 2006 to 1.6 million in 2014, and car companies are taking note. While Zipcar leads the market with locations in 348 cities worldwide, services like car2go and Enterprise CarShare are popular car rental services. Automakers such as GM have ventured into the car-sharing market, too. But is there room for GM’s Maven program, and what does it offer that Zipcar doesn’t?
GM announced the launch of its car-sharing program back in January, beginning with 21 parking spots in Ann Arbor, Mich. It has since expanded to other cities including Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Maven aims to provide its customers with “highly personalized, on-demand mobility services,” GM said in a statement. I’ve been using Zipcar for almost a year. But how does Maven stack up?
Signing up for Maven was quick and painless. I signed up online rather than through the smartphone app, available as an Android and iPhone app. I filled in my personal and driver’s license information, set my “preferred market” as Chicago, and I provided my credit card information. Maven waived the $35 annual membership fee at the time because of a public promotion, so it charged my card only $1 to verify that it was a valid payment method.
I received a confirmation email within minutes, and was told that Maven would approve or deny my membership application within two business days. I was approved only a few hours later, which was convenient. The quick approval also made me wonder how thoroughly it checked my information.
Making the Reservation
To make a reservation, I had to download the Maven app, which made me miss the convenience of reserving a car from a website or using an automated phone system. Most rental companies allow drivers to do both; Zipcar does, too. Once I was in Maven’s app, though, I liked the app’s interface; you can see nearby Maven car locations, as well as the number and types of vehicles there.
I didn’t like that the app listed all of my personal information. Anyone who opened it could see my name, home address and driver’s license information (including expiration date and home state). There is no option to set a passcode lock, so if someone got into my iPhone, they could easily find all that personal information.