General Motors Co. today unveiled a car-sharing program in New York City in which residents of a luxury apartment building use a GM app to reserve a vehicle and access a parking spot in 200 garages throughout Manhattan. The Detroit-based automaker has plans to ultimately expand the service to other urban areas.
"Customers want options on how to move from Point A to Point B that provide flexibility and personalization," says Dan Ammann, president of GM. "Let's Drive NYC is just one part of GM's global urban mobility strategy. We view evolving consumer preferences, such as car-sharing, as real business opportunities, where we can quickly build on our existing capabilities such as OnStar connectivity to very effectively meet customer needs."
GM partnered with Google last year to test a commuter ride-sharing service using Chevrolet Spark EVs. Using an app, drivers and riders were matched based on trip patterns and schedules.
Residents of the The Ritz Plaza, a 500-unit luxury apartment building in Times Square, have access to a fleet that includes eight Chevrolet Trax small SUVs and two Chevrolet Equinox compact SUVs, with more vehicles to be added later. Residents receive electronic credits valid for three hours of rental per month. After that, customers pay about $10 an hour or up to $75 for a 24-hour reservation.
Katie Adams, a GM spokeswoman, says the “Let’s Drive NYC” program can be scaled once the automaker understands the program usage and can refine the offering.
“While we haven’t committed to additional cities, our progress in providing urban mobility solutions continues,” Adams says. She says GM will have more news to share in early 2016.
In June, Ford Motor Co. launched a car-sharing service in London that offers access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys throughout the city.
IN RELATED GM NEWS, the automaker’s CEO Mary Barra and her leadership team outlined the company’s plans to capitalize on the future of personal mobility.
“The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is creating an inflection point for the transportation industry not seen in decades,” Barra says. “Some might find this massive change to be daunting, but we look at it and see the opportunity to be a disruptor. We believe our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity is fundamental to our quest to redefine the future of personal mobility.”
Besides the car sharing, alternative transportation initiatives GM is exploring include:
Autonomous Vehicle Deployment: GM announced that late in 2016 it will add a fleet of 2017 Chevrolet Volts designed to drive autonomously within its renovated Warren Technical Center campus. GM employees will reserve a Volt using a car-sharing app, then select a destination. GM’s autonomous technology will bring the vehicle to its destination and park it. The program will serve as a rapid-development laboratory to provide data and lessons to accelerate the company’s technical capabilities in autonomous vehicles. GM has been testing its “Super Cruise” autonomous driving technology since 2012, and confirmed today the feature will be available in the 2017 Cadillac CT6.
eBike Concept: GM unveiled an electric bike, or eBike, concept during the conference, demonstrating the company’s evolving view of “mobility” in an ever-changing, increasingly urban world. Designed and engineered at GM’s engineering and development center in Oshawa, Ontario, the eBike concept was designed to help people stay mobile in an increasingly difficult-to-navigate urban landscape.
In addition, Barra says GM is working on:
Fuel Cell Propulsion: Another technology helping GM set the pace in achieving zero emissions is fuel cell propulsion. GM has been working to advance hydrogen fuel cells for a decade, launching its first fuel cell electric vehicle in 2007. In collaboration with Honda, it is developing a next-generation hydrogen fuel cell stack and hydrogen storage systems. GM confirmed its plans to jointly develop a commercially viable fuel cell vehicle with Honda in the 2020 timeframe. Because the technology can also provide promising financial rewards, GM indicated it is pursuing non-automotive fuel cell applications for the aerospace and military industries.
Mixed Materials: GM is intensely focused on reducing weight in every vehicle it develops, since lighter vehicles are better able to meet increasingly stringent global CO2 standards and offer consumer benefits including efficiency and enhanced performance. The company is using an array of materials, including various grades of steel, aluminum and composites, to help make vehicles stronger, safer, more fuel efficient and fun to drive. Engineers are using a mix of materials more cost effectively than ever across all GM brands and making them accessible to customers at various price points. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, for example, incorporates 11 different materials and, as a result, is nearly 300 pounds lighter than its predecessor while the next-generation Camaro is almost 400 pounds lighter than the current model.
Exclusive Mixed-Metal Manufacturing Techniques: GM’s research and development team has invented another patented, industry-first welding technology to allow the use of more lightweight metal on future vehicles. This resistance spot-welding process enables the welding of aluminum to steel, which helps make vehicles lighter and more structurally robust. The process will be adopted at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on the Cadillac CT6 in the first half of 2016.