Awkward: GM may get into the ridesharing game, despite partnerships with Lyft & Uber

August 21, 2017

In January 2016, General Motors announced a major partnership with Lyft--like, $500 million major. Before the year was through, GM had revealed that it was developing a fleet of self-driving taxis with Lyft; that it would rent cars to wannabe Lyft drivers on the cheap; and, weirdly, that it would do the same for would-be drivers at Lyft's biggest competitor, Uber. 

Recently, we've gotten some even weirder news: GM may begin competing with Uber and Lyft rather than simply partnering. 

But first, a little more backstory.

Around the same time that GM and Lyft became friends with benefits, GM also launched Maven. Maven is a car-sharing company--not a peer-to-peer service like RelayRides, which allows car owners to loan out their vehicles when they're not using them, but one that's more of a clubby rental outfit like Zipcar, employing a dedicated fleet of vehicles. 

Maven became a testing ground for GM's forays into what's generally called "mobility services" Not only did Maven rent vehicles short-term, but it also facilitated the aforementioned rentals to Uber and Lyft drivers (though Uber and Lyft ultimately made the arrangements). Eventually, the rentals became popular enough that Maven began leasing them directly to Uber and Lyft drivers through a service called Gig. 

If that didn't give the folks at Uber and Lyft an inkling of what's to come, they probably got it when Maven began offering delivery services via partnerships with increasingly popular companies like GrubHub and Instacart. The head of Maven, Julia Steyn, has said that the company is currently testing a range of services and gathering data to plan its next move. A ridesharing service that would compete with Lyft and Uber could easily be next. 

The question is: will it? Will the ridesharing market prove profitable enough that GM and Maven would risk offending their current partners?

We can't say for sure. However, GM seems to be paying close attention to many analysts who say that change is a-coming--changes like a massive drop in car ownership due to self-driving cars. That probably explains why the company has begun offering subscription vehicle services like BOOK for Cadillac aficionados and Maven Reserve for Chevrolet fans. Ridesharing could be just around the corner. 

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