GM’s Newest Rip-Off

Renting is a much better deal than buying . . . for the landlord. You – the renter – never own anything. But you pay for everything.

Forever.

This appears to be GM’s view of the future of cars, which it plans to rent to you rather than sell to you.

It’s actually sound policy – for GM – given the cost of new cars (not just GM’s) as well as the declining affection for cars, especially among those in the 35 and younger bracket – many of whom aren’t interested in ever owning a car but occasionally need one.

GM launched Maven – its in-house ride-sharing (renting) service last January in anticipation of a radically changing car market, one presaged by services such as Uber and Lyft. The difference here is that Maven is GM, while Uber and Lyft are simply ride-sharing services that use whatever make/model vehicle their drivers happen to own.

Maven is expressly a way to get people into – and paying to drive – GM vehicles. Without actually buying one.

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This, as they say, may well be The Future. Not for everyone, but for more and more someones – who haven’t got the financial capacity to choke down a $400 per month car payment (plus all the not-optional “extras,” such as insurance, property taxes and maintenance) or just don’t want to.

But maybe they’ll go for the $6-$12 per hour Maven/GM charges to rent a car – especially since the “extras” – which one assumes are folded into the per-hour price – also only cost by the hour and so cost much less.

Or at least, seem to. Bear with, I’ll explain.

Not surprisingly, Maven pushes the least salable of GM’s inventory – the all-electric Bolt and the semi-electric Volt. Few Millennials – or anyone else – either can afford to buy one of these or is even interested in buying one of these. They cost much more than otherwise similar non-electric cars and are gimped by functional limitations (not only range but equally problematic 30-45 minute best-case recharge times, which most people will not put up with) that don’t affect conventional cars.

But political pressure continues to egg-on their manufacture, despite the lack of market demand – and that leaves the problem: What to do with them after they are manufactured?

Dealers don’t want inventory that doesn’t move. Unsold cars take up space on the lot and cost them money and besides, it just looks bad. But parent company GM wants to offload these electric Turduckens because each one built improves the corporation’s overall fleet fuel economy averages (CAFE) and also counts toward the “zero emissions” sales mandates in effect in states like California. Even if they don’t actually sell.

Something had to be done.

Credit GM for being cagey.

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