Car sharing services like Zipcar are viewed by some as a potential threat to the concept of individual car ownership, and consequently to the carmakers themselves. But some of those carmakers see some potential in the concept, including General Motors.
Among the myriad announcements made by the GM brass at a recent investor conference was the launch of “Let’s Drive NYC,” a car-sharing pilot program in the Big Apple. It’s one of two programs being undertaken by GM, with another in an unnamed city set to be announced at a later date.
Let’s Drive NYC is only available to residents of the Ritz Plaza, a 479-unit luxury apartment building in Times Square. Residents can use an app to reserve a vehicle and access parking at one of 200 garages in Manhattan, made available through a partnership with Icon Parking Systems.
While the location being served is certainly swanky, the cars are not. The fleet currently consists of eight Chevrolet Trax and two Chevrolet Equinox crossovers, with more vehicles to be added later. Ritz Plaza residents will get electronic credits good for three hours of rental per month. After that, they can pay “less than $10 an hour or up to $75 for a 24-hour reservation,” GM says.
GM actually began offering the program to select residents over the summer. It claims users completed more than 100 trips and drove about 20,000 miles in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Tri-State Area. These encouraging early results led GM and Stonehenge Partners (owner of the Ritz Plaza) to broaden the program.
Let’s Drive NYC isn’t the first GM experiment with car sharing. Besides investing in German ride sharing firm Flinc, GM has established a car sharing “community” for its Opel brand called CarUnity, and is even testing Zagster bike sharing at its U.S. technical center. In 2014, it also partnered with Google on a ride sharing test service using Chevrolet Spark EV electric cars.
Other carmakers are also getting involved in car sharing. BMW and Daimler have their DriveNow and Car2Go services, respectively, and Audi launched a short-term rental beta program in San Francisco earlier this year.