How would you like to rent a car in less than a second?
The idea of instant access to a vehicle could be appealing, especially for people who don’t own a car and live in a big city. General Motors and Toyota are the latest major automakers to get on board the car-sharing trend and could help turn it into a new normal for urban-dwelling commuters.
The idea of a car company venturing into the by-the-hour car rental business might seem to fly in the face of their desire to sell cars meant for individual ownership, but the younger generation seems to be demanding a change in how they transport themselves.
They don’t want to own cars, but they want convenient, inexpensive access to them.
GM has already partnered with Lyft, but expanded its presence in the car-sharing world by starting a new service called Maven. The service debuted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in January and has expanded to nine U.S. markets, including New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The goal is to provide access to cars within seconds via an app, which can then be driven by the hour. GM is finding that Maven’s sweet spot may be in one-way rentals and is increasingly popular for airport transportation.
Toyota is taking a slightly different route and partnering with a company called Getaround, which bills itself as something like Airbnb, but with cars. The partnership will allow owners of Toyota vehicles to share their cars with people who want to rent them.
To facilitate this car sharing, Toyota developed a smart key box that can be placed in an owner’s vehicle without any modifications to the vehicle. Those wishing to use the car via Getaround’s car-sharing service will receive a code that authorizes their device to access, and start, the vehicle.
Car-sharing appears to be a movement that will continue to grow in the coming years, so automakers are smart to explore ways to be involved.
Would you rather rent a car when you need one, or own a car and rent it out when it’s not in use?