Car-Sharing

GM pulls the plug on Maven car-sharing service

Maven users logged into a smartphone app to reserve a car.

Photo courtesy of MAven

Maven is no more. The car-sharing business experiment built on the hope that people wouldn't want to own cars anymore has reached the end of the road.

Last year, Maven's parent company General Motors announced that the service was pulling out of most of its service areas. Now, in an email to subscribers, the company says that it is shuttering the service due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in 2016, Maven originally stared as an on-demand car sharing program where smartphone app users were able to have access to a General Motors vehicle for a set length of time, picking it up from a designated area and dropping it off at another. That space was already occupied by ZipCar, among others.

The company pivoted, then allowing users to share their own General Motors vehicles peer-to-peer style like Turo does, as well as in the original style.

Later, with the launch of Maven Gig in 2017, the company attempted to rent out vehicles to drivers who work for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.

Maven Gig launch Austin Texas Maven Gig allowed users to utilize GM vehicles for Lyft and Uber responsibilities.Photo courtesy of Maven

In its heyday, the service was available in 17 cities. However, despite the analysts projections about millennials wanting everything as a subscription service, Maven was never really ever able to catch on. In May 2019, it was announced that service would cease in eight cities but remain available in Ann Arbor, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington, D.C, and Toronto.

At the time of its launch, former GM President Dan Ammann said, "GM is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility. With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future."

Ammann currently works as the President of Cruise, a company GM purchased at the same time it launched Maven, which is also designed to transform mobility solutions. Recently, they launched the Cruise Origin, a self-driving all-electric shuttle that acts much like Mcity driverless shuttles that were used at the University of Michigan in 2019.

GM is currently gearing up to produce the Origin at their Detroit-Hamtramck plant alongside the GMC Hummer EV.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is the company's first long-range electric vehicle for the U.S. market.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The long-teased Volkswagen ID.4 has arrived. Volkswagen will make the battery electric vehicle (BEV) its first long-range model sold in the U.S. The model will be made in the U.S.A at VW's Chattanooga plant and go on sale in early 2021.

"The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package."

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Platform and battery design

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With a serviceable body design, the highlights of the ID.4 reside in the details. Its battery pack consists of 288 pouch cells in 12 modules. The pack resides under the vehicle's center and doesn't intrude on passenger space. The battery pack is attached to the car via an aluminum hold and connects with an electric motor at the rear.

VW will offer the ID.4 with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery at launch. The power source is capable of achieving 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet for torque, which are good numbers for its vehicle size, though some of that may be undercut by the heaviness of the vehicle - the weight information is still forthcoming from the company.

The ID.4 82kWh RWD 1st Edition models will have a range of 250 miles. A more powerful all-wheel-drive variant with 302 horsepower will go on sale later in 2021.

Each ID.4 that is purchased comes with three years of free charging capability via Electrify America infrastructure. The ID.4 can be charged with both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) fast-charging capability. The onboard 11-kilowatt charger allows for charging the battery 33 miles in about an hour and charges to full in around 7.5 hours on a Level 2 charger. At a DC fast-charging station, with 125 kilowatt charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is touting the vehicle's nimble drivability. VW knows a thing or two about five-door vehicle nimbleness. They're the makers of the Golf GTI, one of the most beloved hot hatches on the planet.

As for dimensions, the ID.4 is 4.6 inches smaller and shorter than the Tiguan, and has a shorter wheelbase. Despite this, the passenger space of the model is similar to the Tiguan. It has cargo space similar in size to the Mazda CX-5.

The ID.4 will available in six exterior colors—Glacier White Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, Moonstone Grey, Scale Silver Metallic, Blue Dusk Metallic and King's Red Metallic. All models come with a body color roof, black roof rails, and 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The Statement package adds a panoramic fixed-glass roof, premium LED projector headlights with Volkswagen's Adaptive Front-lighting System, and power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamp signature. The Gradient package (sold on top of the Statement package) upgrades to 20-inch wheels, black roof, and silver roof rails and accents.

A 5.3-inch digital instrument display replaces the traditional instrument cluster in front of the driver. It's operated with touch-sensitive controls on the car's leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There is no gearshift because an electric vehicle does not require gears. Instead, the vehicle shifts to drive using a rocker switch on the dashboard.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Interior

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Piano Black material is featured on the steering wheel, steering column, door controls, and display housings. The car's standard cloth seats are finished in black cloth on entry models and Lunar Gray or Galaxy Black leatherette on models with the Statement package. Entry ID.4 models feature six-way adjustable seats with power recline, while the Statement package adds 12-way power seats, with massage lumbar and memory, as well as 30-color ambient lighting.

The roster of standard features includes rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone Climatronic climate control, and KESSY keyless access, heated steering wheel, heated side mirrors and washer nozzles, wireless mobile charging, wireless App-Connect, and Volkswagen Car-Net with in-car WiFi capability, and, on all-wheel-drive models, a heated windshield. The Statement package adds satellite radio, an adjustable trunk floor, and a power tailgate with Easy Open & Close.

Pricing for the ID.4 starts at $39,995, for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro, before a potential federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is applied. Volkswagen Credit will offer qualified customers a monthly lease payment $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing for a 36-month lease with a 10,000-miles per year limit.

Starting later in 2021, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,675) will be available. These models can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500). The ID.4 launches with a limited-run ID.4 1st Edition ($43,995).

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GMC has a winner with its new Yukon Denali.

Photo courtesy of GMC

The 2021 GMC Yukon isn't just a new SUV. It's a maturation of the brand, continuing the growth ushered in by the Sierra truck redesign two years ago.

GMC, a division of General Motors, didn't just make the SUV more luxe than the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, or a more rugged choice than the Cadillac Escalade. The Yukon is its own beast. And make no mistake, it is a beast in proportions though on the road it proves impressively maneuverable.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Each Yukon Denali comes with the Denali trim level's new grl Photo courtesy of GMC

The three-row full-size SUV is solid and capable. It's also the most elegant model in the GMC lineup, especially as tested in the Denali trim level. From the unique grille with satin chrome surround to the dual exhaust system with dual steel tips, the Yukon Denali stands out.

Riding on 20-inch wheels and powered by GM's 6.2-liter V8 engine, the Yukon Denali makes a proficient 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The engine is connected to a GM's 10-speed automatic transmission, which cannot be smoother in its operation.

The four-corner air suspension ensures that the ride is stable whether on smooth pavement or dirt, rounding corners at speed, or turning into a parking lot. It also raises and lowers the vehicle to an optimal height depending on the vehicle's current driving or resting function.

Pulling into that parking lot and getting properly into the space is easy thanks to accurate steering and the Yukon Denali's class-leading nine camera views.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali The rear of the Yukon Denali is a new look for the model. Photo courtesy of GMC

Shifting of the Yukon Denali is done via a new lever and button configuration that is placed on the dashboard near the steering wheel. In a world of stick, column, push-button, and rotary shifters, this new take is easy to use and intuitive. It's certainly head and shoulders ahead of the push-button shifter featured in the current generation Traverse's center stack when it debuted a few years ago.

GMC has equipped the Yukon Denali with a four-wheel drive system that allows proper traction in a variety of weather conditions. Only sunshine graced the SUV during its 36-hour test drive so there was no opportunity to truly put the system through its paces.

The Yukon Denali's cabin is more premium than ever before. It truly feels luxurious, even despite its parts bin center console controls, which are shared with the Sierra. Leather and soft-touch surfaces abound. The cabin is appointed in authentic materials in the areas where your eyes traditionally rest while being a passenger.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Fine materials are on display throughout the cabin. Photo courtesy of GMC

It has a unique moving center console that allows front row passengers to have more space while making the center console more accessible to second-row occupants.

Speaking of the second row, its captains chairs are made for comfort. In front of the passengers are twin 12.6-inch entertainment screens. The screen system no longer supports DVDs. The shift is in favor of USB- and Bluetooth-connected devices as well as streaming content. It can now accommodate Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Playstation, Apple TV, Roku, and Sling devices.

Access to the third row is easy through the center of the second row and adults can more comfortably sit back there thanks to the Yukon's elongated body style for the 2021 model year.

In front of the driver is a 15-inch head-up display that offers music information from the 14-speaker Bose sound system, navigation, and speedometer in an unobtrusive way.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali A new push button and lever shifting system is employed in the model. Photo courtesy of GMC

At the center of the dashboard is a sizable 10.2-inch infotainment screen that utilizes GM's standard operating system and graphics. Unlike what's in Genesis and Lincoln models, GMC's parent company hasn't refined the system with different styling for the premium model line. The Yukon Denali has up to eight USB ports, wireless charging, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

GMC has equipped the Yukon Denali with a host of standard safety features - most everything you'd expect. GM's Super Cruise hands-free driving technology hasn't yet made it over to the model, which is a shame.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali The Yukon Denali utilizes switchgear from the Sierra. Photo courtesy of GMC

Despite the complete redesign and impressive enhancements to the Yukon Denali for 2021, GMC has upped the price just $600 from the cost of the 2020 model. Including the destination charge the SUV comes in at just over $75,000. While $75,000 might sound steep to many buyers out there, compared to what you get from luxury automakers and truck sellers for that price, the Yukon Denali's cost is impressively low. That includes three rows of seating, high-end appointments, comfort, style, and a towing capacity of up to 7,900 pounds. The Yukon Denali could be priced at $90,000 and it would hardly elicit a second thought.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Dual entertainment screens are available in the Yukon Denali. Photo courtesy of GMC

From the interior to the exterior it's easy to see that GMC has gotten this one right. Twenty-five percent of GMCs sold are Denali badged and it wouldn't be surprising to see that number creeping up with the freshly enhanced model.

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