GM unveils car sharing program for the Big Apple

GM's Let's Drive NYC
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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Insect drones and kinetic sculpture robots

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Cars

Seat belts will be required in Chevrolet’s new Teen Driver Mode

Seat belts are a simple technology, yet teens are terrible at wearing them. To curb this tendency, Chevy has announced a new safety feature for its Teen Driver Mode that prevents the car from leaving Park if seat belts are not engaged.
Cars

GM hits reverse with Maven carsharing as it closes service in eight cities

GM-owned Maven will close its carsharing service in 8 of the 17 North American cities where it currently operates. Competing with the likes of Zipcar and Car2Go, the app-based service offers car rental by the hour or day.
Cars

GM thinks up new electronic brain for its cars, allowing over-the-air updates

General Motors is launching a new electrical architecture to support more tech features in its cars. The system debuts on the 2020 Cadillac CT5, and will roll out to most other GM models by 2023.
Cars

Semi-autonomous and always available: A peek into the near future of car rental

Soon we will see connected rental fleets with a dedicated lane at airports for self-driving cars, where drivers control the car to the airport, and then the empty car drives itself to the rental lot.
Cars

Walmart slashes prices on electric hybrid bicycles for National Bike Month

Electric bikes can be economical, convenient, and fun. Heading into summer, Walmart slashed the prices for two pedal-assist Hyper E-ride Mountain and City Electric Hybrid Bikes by 40%. We found a variety of e-rides for under $1,000.
Product Review

Want an electric car that doesn't look like an electric car? Meet Audi's E-Tron

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the German automaker’s first series-production electric car. Rather than make a bold statement with its first electric vehicle, Audi chose to make the E-Tron as much like its other cars as possible.
Cars

Ford aluminum truck beds prove haters wrong, are cheaper to repair than steel

Repair costs were a major concern for truck buyers when Ford launched its aluminum F-150. But insurance data indicates that, if anything, the F-150 may be cheaper to repair than traditional steel trucks.
Cars

Mercedes-Benz safety-car concept monitors the road ahead and your kids

The Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle 2019 was designed for a world where humans and machines share driving duties. It can use lights to communicate with other road users and even monitor an infant's vital signs.
Cars

Crisp and connected, the Volkswagen Golf will get a digital reboot in 2020

Volkswagen is putting the final touches on the eighth-generation Golf. The hatchback will still be recognizable as a member of the Golf family, but it will receive a crisper design inside and out.
Cars

With Tesla bleeding money, Elon Musk initiates hardcore spending review

After posting a sizable $700 million loss in the first quarter of 2019, Tesla announced it will review every expense, no matter the size, to keep spending in check. Company CEO Elon Musk will personally approve every 10th expense page.
Cars

Bosch sensors used in Skywalker’s lightsaber will keep flying taxis in the air

Bosch wants to help companies make flying taxis a reality. Aviation technology is too big and too expensive to power a flying taxi, so the German firm is developing a universal control unit using smaller, cheaper sensors already used in…
Cars

Alexa and Google Home-compatible JuicePlan simplifies EV charging at home

JuicePlan, eMotorWerks' new residential electric vehicle level 2 charging service subscription plan that simplifies EV home charger selection and installation, is now available in parts of California, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Cars

Many Uber and Lyft vehicles have open safety recalls, report says

A Consumer Reports survey of roughly 94,000 cars registered with Uber and Lyft in New York City and Seattle found that many had open safety recalls. The rate of open recalls was similar to that of personal cars, however.