The Ride Guide to Maven

  • Jim Resnick reports on cars, technology, design, motorsports, and marketing for over 30 publications as varied as Men's Health, Wired, Car and Driver, the BBC, Hot Rod and the New York Daily News. Arizona-based, Jim notes that he’s done well over 1.5 million miles at the wheel and over 1,000 articles at the keyboard.

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If you live in a crowded city, finding a parking space can be difficult. This and other factors have given birth to car-sharing services like Maven, which gives customers access to cars just when they need them, freeing themselves from the burdens of ownership like maintenance, repair, and insurance.

But between all the car-sharing companies that now exist, traditional rental cars, and car-hailing outfits like Lyft and Uber, the question remains whether it is better to rent, buy, hail, or tap into a car-sharing service only when needed. The answer depends on your situation and locale, so read on.

GM Launched Maven, so Maven Features GM Products

A Maven Chevrolet Bolt EV at a charging station
Maven offers electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which offers 238 miles of driving range. (General Motors)

Maven was launched by General Motors, and therefore uses only GM cars. The cars are owned by GM, or, if you own a Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, or GMC that’s a 2015 model year or newer, you can sign up to make your vehicle available through the service as a Maven Peer selection.

Unlike some car-sharing services, Maven doesn’t charge an application or a subscription service fee. Once you’ve downloaded the app to your smartphone or cell-enabled mobile device, and you’ve set up an active profile with a valid U.S. driver’s license (or a non-U.S. license accepted in the state where you’ll be operating the vehicle), you’re ready.

Other car-sharing services do have more locations in some cities and their networks may reach into suburban locales, so Maven is a good choice if you live in or parachute into urban areas.

At the start of 2019, Maven was available in 11 cities in the U.S. including Ann Arbor, MI; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Denver; Los Angeles; New York City; Orlando; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. Toronto is the first Canadian city with access.

If you own a GM vehicle, you can offer it in Detroit, Chicago, or Denver, though Maven plans to expand the number of cities in the near future.

Maven’s Mobile-friendly App Opens the Doors, Literally

Maven app door unlock screen
With Maven, users locate a suitable and convenient car on their phone, place the reservation and duration, and the app unlocks the car. For vehicles with a push-button starter, your phone is the key. For cars with hard keys, you open a coded lockbox inside the car. (General Motors)

You’ll need a smartphone to use Maven, because you make reservations, car selections, and payments using an iPhone with iOS 9.3 or above or Android 5.0 devices with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Your phone even unlocks the doors and can be used to start the engine. Additionally, you’ll need a major credit or debit card to pay for your loan. Pre-paid cards, gift cards, and virtual cards are not accepted.

Maven quotes rates from $6.50 per hour for a tiny Chevy Spark or small Chevy Cruze up to $13.00 per hour for a Chevy Suburban large SUV. However, rates and specific vehicle models vary by city and circumstance. You can count on some cities like New York to have higher rates than others, such as Ann Arbor, and if you need a big vehicle for a large family outing, for example, you should plan ahead.

Insurance is included in the rate, but only for member drivers. If you allow a non-member to drive the car, you are responsible for all damage, you’ll pay a $500 fine, and you’ll lose your Maven membership. So while your friend might be begging you to give that Camaro SS convertible a try, don’t do it.

You can’t use valet parking services with a Maven vehicle, either (except in New York with a physical vehicle key). Tolls, parking, and any other use-related fees you incur while driving the vehicle are always your responsibility. Replenishing fuel to the level you began with is a requirement, as well. However, that does not apply to electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt EV.

Maven makes 180 miles of travel standard for each 24-hour period, so a two-day reservation lets you accrue up to 360 miles. If you go over that mark, you pay a fee of 42 cents per mile. You can certainly drive to other states, but crossing an international border is strictly verboten and your agreement will be terminated, no questions asked.

On the flip side, as a Maven car owner offering your own vehicle through the service, you will receive 60% of the rental fee generated. You can also set the rental price yourself, at up to 40% higher than Maven’s recommended hourly and daily fee.

Rules are Rules: The Car is Your Responsibility

Woman inspecting a Maven rental vehicle
A Maven vehicle is your responsibility. Be sure to carefully check for damage, inside and out, both before leaving with the car and when you return it. (General Motors)

When you use a Maven-owned vehicle, it’s important to remember that while you’re driving someone else’s car, it is nevertheless your responsibility to take good care of it. And there are rules associated with driving one.

If you’re involved in an accident, Maven provides a phone number to call (1-844-HIMAVEN) or, since all cars are equipped with GM’s OnStar service, you can simply push that button located by the overhead lights in order to summon help.

Since many people grow attached to their pets, Maven allows them, but only when placed in lockable pet carriers. Service animals are the only exception, though you must note that when reserving a car.

Unlike most other car sharing and rental operations, Maven vehicles come with a higher level of equipment across the board. Maven enables remote door unlocking through the app and includes satellite radio on all cars. Also, all Maven cars have an automatic transmission, so they do not require the driver to know how to use a clutch.

You must return Maven cars to their parking garage or the same street you originally picked it up from and simply select “End Trip” on the app. Pick-up and drop-off instructions are included in the information when you confirm the reservation.

If the drop-off is on a residential neighborhood street, it must be within 1,000 feet (roughly a city block) of the originating location and clear of any parking restrictions for the following 24 hours.

The Bottom Line

Friends with a Maven Cadillac Escalade
When you can’t afford to drive a Cadillac Escalade on a daily basis, borrowing one from Maven just for fun makes sense. (General Motors)

Clearly, Maven and all car-sharing services are most appealing to those who seldom drive. In part due to the long list of restrictions and requirements, this is no replacement for car ownership. If you use a car every day, every other day, or even every week, tapping into the car-sharing world might not be wise financially.

For occasional trips of limited duration in and around big cities, though, Maven does make good sense.

About the Author

  • Jim Resnick reports on cars, technology, design, motorsports, and marketing for over 30 publications as varied as Men's Health, Wired, Car and Driver, the BBC, Hot Rod and the New York Daily News. Arizona-based, Jim notes that he’s done well over 1.5 million miles at the wheel and over 1,000 articles at the keyboard.

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