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GM launches new Maven 'personal mobility brand'

As car-sharing and ride-sharing services provide many individuals with a more attractive alternative to car ownership, some automakers are looking to transform themselves from “car companies” into “mobility companies.” General Motors just took a big step in that direction with the launch of a car-sharing service called Maven.

The General is already heavily involved in mobility services. It recently announced a $500 million investment in Lyft, and bought failed ride-sharing service Sidecar. Now, it plans to consolidate all of its mobility projects under the Maven brand.

The first major initiative for Maven is a car-sharing program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aimed primarily at students and faculty at the University of Michigan, it will include GM vehicles positioned at 21 parking spots around the city. Without getting into specifics, GM says pricing will be “simple and transparent,” and that fuel and insurance will be included in the rental fee.

Related: With FordPass, Ford seeks to create the “iTunes” of mobility services

Customers will use an app to find and reserve vehicles. The app will also be able to control certain vehicle functions remotely, including starting the engine and priming the climate control. All cars will also be equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, and OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspots. Users will also have “direct access to Maven leadership and core team members” through WhatsApp, GM says.

The company also plans to launch a Maven car-sharing operation in Chicago, and will take over the New York City operation previously known as Let’s Drive NYC. Both services are limited to residents of apartment buildings selected by GM and partner real-estate firms. Combined, they’ll serve about 5,000 people, according to GM.

In addition to the U.S. programs, GM continues to operate a peer-to-peer car-sharing service in Germany. Called CarUnity, it has accumulated nearly 10,000 users in Berlin and Frankfurt since mid-2015, GM says. The carmaker also plans to launch a shuttle service using autonomous 2017 Chevrolet Volts at its Warren Technical Center in Michigan.