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GM Is Betting on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, Says Maven Exec, But Obstacles Lie Ahead

December 11, 2019, 2:01 AM UTC

In the future, people will travel in autonomous and electric vehicles that will eliminate crashes, emissions, and congestion, a General Motors executive said.

“We’re not going to get there tomorrow, but it’s what drives our business,” said Sigal Cordeiro, vice president of General Motors’mobility and Maven car rental service.

But Cordeiro, who made the comments at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday, realizes that GM and its rivals will have to overcome challenges to make this vision a reality. Maven, a startup-like organization within GM, has already encountered a few of those hurdles and hopes to use GM’s resources to accomplish its larger goal. 

Issues include a shortage of charging stations, which Cordeiro said is one of the main reasons why consumers don’t buy electric vehicles. There’s also the complicated matters of regulation and improving the technology.

Because of the uncertainties, Cordeiro was unable to provide a timeline for the roll out of commercial autonomous vehicles.

“It’s going to take us a while,” she said. “But certainly we’re making great progress to get there.”

So far, Maven has built five charging stations with 34 individual chargers for drivers who work for ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber traveling in electric vehicles between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The stations were built in partnership with EVgo. 

Maven also has a team dedicated to working on local regulations, which can be so suffocating that they prevent companies like Maven from operating within certain city limits.

Earlier this year, Maven pulled out of eight of the 17 cities in which it operated. Cities like Boston, Chicago, and New York City lost their Maven service, while others like Los Angeles, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., maintained it.

On Tuesday, Cordeiro reiterated the message that the company gave when it cut back where it operated.

“With the limited resources we have, the growth potential isn’t there in every market,” she said. “We had to focus on where it made sense … and that’s what we’ve done in the last year.”

More must-read stories from Fortune’s MPW Next Gen Summit:

Chanel Miller is more than “Emily Doe”
—The “blameless post mortem” and other techniques that spur innovation
Career pivots are daunting. Here’s how three powerful women made them work
—Goldman Sachs removed one word from recruiting materials and female hires soared
—Exclusive: Enterprise scion Chrissy Taylor to become car rental giant’s CEO
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