A couple of months ago, General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft, the second-most-popular ride-hailing company in the U.S., behind undisputed leader Uber. Back then, the two companies said that their partnership was supposed to result in the creation of a network of self-driving cars offering ride-sharing services.
Now, the Detroit automaker and the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company are ready to launch their first joint project. General Motors and Lyft have announced that they are rolling out a rental program that at first glance seems to be primarily aimed at getting more people to start driving for Lyft.
Short-Term Rentals for Lyft Drivers
The pilot program is called Express Drive, and it will begin at the end of March in Chicago, with Boston, Washington D.C., Baltimore and other cities to follow later on. It will allow those who are interested in driving for Lyft, but don’t own cars that meet the company’s requirements, to rent GM vehicles and offer rides to passengers using Lyft’s on-demand ride-hailing app.
The main motivation behind this plan is the fact that many prospective Lyft drivers don’t own qualifying vehicles and can’t afford to buy one. Lyft states that it has received applications from 60,000 potential drivers in the Chicago area who did not have a vehicle that qualified.
There are several requirements that vehicles must meet in order to be eligible for use in the Lyft platform. For instance, they must be model year 2004 or newer, they must have at least 5 seat belts and four doors, and they must not have any body damage.
John Zimmer, Lyft’s president and co-founder, said: “Launching Express Drive is another way we treat drivers better, in addition to Power Driver Bonus, tips and same day payouts. We’re making sure everyone who wants to be a Lyft driver can be, by providing ultimate flexibility at incredible rates.”
Renting a Chevy Equinox for a Fixed Weekly Fee
All vehicles that will be available for rent by Lyft drivers will be Chevrolet Equinox SUVs, and the fleet will be comprised of 120 vehicles at the beginning. As GM states, the vehicles will be equipped with OnStar, the car maker’s infotainment system that offers various emergency, security, connectivity and navigation services.
For $99 per week, drivers can rent an Equinox and take as many Lyft rides as they want. Those who take at least 65 rides per week, will be exempt from paying their weekly car-rental fee, which is supposed to motivate drivers to take more fares.
However, there will be certain limitations for drivers. They will be allowed to rent cars for up to eight weeks at a time, probably as an effort to include as many people as possible in the program.
“We’re very pleased with how quickly the GM and Lyft team collaborated to create the Express Drive program, which we will be implementing using our Maven mobility infrastructure,” said GM president Dan Ammann in a statement.
With this move, General Motors essentially enters the ride-sharing industry, which is something that many automakers are considering, in light of increased interest in on-demand rides among consumers and the trend of reduced use of privately-owned vehicles.