General Motors may soon introduce its service to lease cars for Lyft drivers in California, according to recent public filings.
GM’s app-based car rental service, Maven, launched in January and now operates or will soon operate in New York City, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Boston and Washington, D.C. In addition to renting vehicles for personal use for a weekly fee, drivers in some cities can use Maven to drive for the ride-hail platform Lyft.
That’s something Lyft drivers cannot do in California, but that soon may change. In a Monday filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, GM apparently revealed its intent to bring Maven to California.
GM filed to become an interested “party” that can submit recommendations to the CPUC as it crafts its “Phase 3” regulations, a sweeping set of state laws for Uber and Lyft that will be debated over the next year. The CPUC regulates ride-hails like Uber and Lyft, of which there are an estimated 37,000 in San Francisco, according to city officials.
One of those regulations under heated debate is whether leased or rented vehicles can legally be considered personal vehicles, which are the only types of vehicles currently allowed on Uber or Lyft platforms.
In GM’s filings, under a section titled “Statement of Interest,” the company wrote, “The terms and conditions under which a TNC [Transportation Network Company] driver may rent a car to perform services will affect the operation of Maven’s rental hubs in California.
“The ability to rent will turn on the Commission’s definition of ‘personal vehicle,’” GM added. “GM and Maven request party status to address this important Phase 3 issue.”
This statement of interest may be the first written statement in legal filings indicating GM’s intent to introduce Maven to California. Lyft has particular prominence in San Francisco and is known to pilot new ideas in The City.
Earlier this year, GM invested $500 million in Lyft.
Further bolstering the idea that Maven is moving to California, GM last month posted a job listing for a “Maven Market Coordinator” in nearby Tracy. The job description asks applicants to “Assist with development, launch and growth of Maven or Express Drive business operations.”
Barry Korengold, a taxi driver and board member of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, called the notion of allowing leased cars to be used for ride-hails like Lyft is “hogwash.”
“This whole thing about rental cars as now personal vehicles is bullshit,” he said. “They’re completely bending the meaning of words.”
He noted Lyft, Uber and other ride-hail companies pitch themselves as a means to take cars off the road by encouraging people to “share” their vehicles.
GM and Lyft were not immediately available for comment.
Proposed Assembly Bill 2763, currently making its way through the state Legislature, would redefine leased or rented vehicles as “personal vehicles” for use in services like Lyft or Uber.