GM’s (GM) biggest threat may no longer be big Japanese carmakers like Toyota.
The automaker is launching a pilot project for residents of the Ritz Plaza apartments in Times Square, offering them the ability to rent GM cars by the hour, relieving these Manhattan residents of the burden of owning a car one of the most densely-packed locations in the world, according to a report in Bloomberg News.
The program is a response to car-sharing services like Zipcar and Uber, which cater to city-dwellers and others who find it convenient to not own a car, but still need one to get around from time to time. It’s also likely a recognition of what could be a big problem for American car makers: the slowing of growth in miles driven in the U.S.
As you can see from the chart above. the growth total number of miles driven in the United States has slowed dramatically since the financial crisis, reflecting the weak economy, but also a potential cultural shift in which fewer folks see car ownership as a must. As GM President Dan Ammann told Bloomberg: “We view evolving consumer preferences, such as car-sharing, as real business opportunities.”
The news comes after U.S. auto sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18.2 million in September–the highest in more than 10 years, according to Bloomberg.
A combination of Labor Day, low oil prices and low oil prices created high demand. It doesn’t hurt that economists expect that September boasted solid job growth. GM, Ford (F), and Nissan Motor all beat analysts’ expectations for the month.