Could Airbnb be Coming to the Auto World?
Are you an avid traveler? If so, do you find room and board using Airbnb or some other similar service? Well, it’s possible that this type of service could be coming to the automotive world sooner than many anticipated. There has been discussion at General Motors about such a service for vehicles that could launch as soon as summer 2018.
The plans have yet to be made public by GM but people close to the situation said that the tests could come as soon as this summer. Basically, people would be allowed to rent their vehicles to others when they are not using them. The program would be called Maven, which would be a rental platform where vehicle owners can post their cars available for rent. Vehicles would have to be GM vehicles and owners will share revenue with GM.
If Maven becomes a success and GM launches it as a full-fledged business, this could further move the company towards a vehicle provider and no longer a vehicle manufacturer. The company’s stocks have seen a recent uptick with the announcement of self-driving cars and now Maven. Investors are also moving back to GM with these projects.
Maven is already an active entity of GM that rents vehicles to drivers, especially those who only need transportation for a short time, such as Zipcar. Maven also rents vehicles to drivers who work for companies that require the use of a vehicle, such as Uber and any food delivery business. The difference here is that these vehicles being rented are owned by GM. If Maven were to succeed as a peer-to-peer service then it wouldn’t need to have as many assets on its books.
Maven would not be the first peer-to-peer car sharing service on the market if it did succeed. Getaround and Turo are two that come to mind. They are both very much like Airbnb as they rent transportation to those who need it like Airbnb rents real estate to those who need somewhere to live or stay for vacation.
Tesla has also mentioned the idea of starting peer-to-peer ridesharing services, according to plans mentioned by company CEO Elon Musk back in July 2016. The difference here would be that Tesla wants to use a fleet of self-driving vehicles for the program. If Tesla launches this program it would work using the Tesla app, allowing vehicle owners to rent their vehicle out while they are at work or away on vacation, generating income to help them pay for their vehicle loan or other bills.
Ridesharing services that are peer-to-peer are already facing challenges from traditional rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise. These companies want lawmakers to eliminate tax loopholes that members of the rental companies have to pay and that those using rideshare services don’t have to pay. Turo is also fighting a legal battle with San Francisco that wants to keep the service from operating at the city airport.
What are your thoughts? Would you like to use an Airbnb-like service to rent a car when you are on vacation or when you need transportation for a couple of days? Let us know in the comments section.