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L.A., meet EV: New partnership will enable Angelenos to borrow Bolt EV electric cars

General Motors’ Maven ride-sharing service has partnered with the city of Los Angeles to enable Angelenos and tourists to borrow Bolt EV electric cars to get around town. 

The partnership, announced Thursday morning at a Union Station ceremony, will put 100 of GM’s Bolt EV all-electric sedans into service in the area.

The cars will be available for hire by individuals, and also by Lyft drivers, as part of an ongoing agreement between GM and the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company.

The Maven partnership will give visitors, tourists and residents of the city an opportunity to visit downtown without their cars, and experience electric vehicles if they find they need one.

“We want to get people out of their cars, by doing things like riding the Expo line to downtown, and using bike share,” said Matt Petersen, the city's chief sustainability officer. “Now, if they need to use a car, they can take advantage of a program like this, and drive an EV.”

As part of the L.A. partnership, local individuals will be able to borrow a Bolt EV for $12 an hour, and charge it for free. Lyft drivers will be able to use one of the battery electric 5-door cars for $219 a week, without paying for charging or insurance.

For a limited time, Maven will even pay for the electricity to charge the Bolt EV, through a partnership between GM and the EVgo car-charging network. The car, released last year, has an Environmental Protection Agency-approved range of 238 miles between charges. 

“Los Angeles is a very important market for us, because it provides all of the unique mobility challenges that a city can have,” said Julia Steyn, vice president of General Motors Urban Mobility and Maven. “And it’s a very fertile ground to introduce an all-electric vehicle.”

Steyn stressed that the announcement was only the beginning of a unique mobility partnership among GM, Los Angeles and the city’s Department of Transportation. Among the goals: how to promote EV use, educate potential users on charging solutions and improve access to an intelligent EV-charging network.

Los Angeles got the nod in part because it represents a strong market for electric vehicles and is also Maven’s biggest market — and the fastest growing — of 17 cities where GM’s mobility wing offers its services.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has also promoted the adoption of EVs, insisting that city government agencies set a target of 50% battery electric vehicles for all new vehicle purchases, for example.

Marcel Porras, deputy chief sustainability officer for the city’s Department of Transportation, noted that while voter-supported investment in a growing light rail system will result in increased mass transit options, a bigger rail system won’t solve everyone’s transportation requirements.

“That’s where shared mobility options come in to fill the gap when traditional transit cannot cover every type of trip, either because of destination, trip type, time of day, and or length of trip,” Porras said.

In January of last year, Maven began offering ride-sharing in Ann Arbor, Mich., near GM’s home base in Detroit. The company subsequently launched in multiple locations, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Nashville, the greater New York area, Orlando, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., San Diego and San Francisco.

Those latter two California cities will be next to get access to Bolt EVs, Maven said.

Maven consists of three separate ride-sharing offerings. Consumers using a phone-based app can reserve and rent a GM vehicle, for as little as $8 an hour, for short-term use. Lyft drivers working with Maven’s Express Drive service use a GM car, without paying for maintenance or insurance, for as little as $149 a week. And residents of certain high-end apartments can share GM cars as amenities provided by building owners. 

The nascent service, younger than rivals Uber, Lyft or Zipcar, has already signed up more than 24,000 members, Maven representatives said. They have already driven more than 78 million miles using the new programs.

charles.fleming@latimes.com

Twitter: @misterfleming

 

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