At the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, one theme is clear: The transportation industry is undergoing a radical shift.

Instead of single-person ownership, automakers like Ford, GM, and Tesla, as well as tech companies like Uber and Lyft, see their future in “mobility”–often, in the form of rideshares.

GM has made a special investment in mobility in its purchase of startup Maven–a service in which people can find and book a car through an app. At NAIAS, the head of Maven, Julia Styn, talked about this critical development for GM, and why it’s been so successful.

Maven provides on-demand cars–every model from a Bolt to a Corvette to an Escalade–to drivers via an app. It is a response to urban growth and the need for mobility as a service, Styn said. It’s meant to develop a new customer base for GM, so it is geared towards millennials–many of whom don’t hold the same ideas, or have the same means, of auto ownership as the previous generations. Seventy-eight percent of Maven users are millennials, she said, and the average age of a Maven user is 30. And Maven is built on a single premise: People trust people. So it relies on influencers, Styn said.

SEE: ‘AI as co-pilot’: The state of autonomous driving, from the auto world’s headquarters in Detroit (TechRepublic)

The business model follows a simple format, allowing people to access a vehicle via a phone alone–without “burdens” like membership fees or cards, access to parking, or insurance. “We provide fun without friction,” Styn said. Additionally, Maven is intended to cater to millennials by “bringing digital life inside the car,” via 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, and through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps. Maven also assures 24/7 customer service with the push of a button.

There are three branches to the startup: Maven Home, Maven City, and Maven Business. When it first got off the ground, Maven was available only to select residents who lived in exclusive car-sharing communities in Manhattan and Ann Arbor via Maven Home. There are currently 8,000 Maven Home users. It’s been extended to “city” and “business” users as well. For Maven Business users, Styn said, the service is available in 12 cities, with an average of 34 days needed for a reservation. After being launched, it was quickly oversubscribed.

SEE: CNET Roadshow’s full coverage of the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS)

One big advantage of Maven Business, Styn said, is people who drive for Uber and Lyft can use it–without having to own a vehicle, which removes the overall cost of driving in wear and tear to the car and gas. In October 2016, GM and Uber announced a partnership, allowing Uber drivers to rent cars via Maven for $179 a week.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Automakers like Ford and Tesla are recognizing the importance of ridesharing programs in autonomous vehicle development. GM’s Maven, a year-old rideshare, has had great success in implementing a rideshare system.
  2. Maven simplifies ridesharing by eliminating need for membership cards, parking spots, or insurance–all done through a mobile app–which could potentially simplify things for commuters.
  3. Maven offers three options: Maven Home, Maven City, and Maven Business. Maven Business, which gives Uber and Lyft drivers the chance to drive without owning a car, was quickly oversubscribed.