Aiming to attract and motivate people who don’t own cars but want to earn money as drivers, ridesharing service Lyft is leveraging its partnership with General Motors to offer rental vehicles for as little as $99 per week plus $0.20 per mile; discounts will be available based on ride volume and the fee covers insurance and maintenance. The program, which is called “Express Drive” and will launch later this month in Chicago, will consist of a fleet of 125 Chevrolet Equinox SUVs.
Offering vehicles at a rate that is economical for both the fleet owner and the driver will provide access to the thousands of would-be drivers. According to the companies, there were 60,000 people in Chicago alone who applied to drive on the Lyft platform, but did not have a car that qualified. GM and Lyft plan to expand Express Drive next to cities including Boston, Washington D.C., and Baltimore.
General Motors appears to have additional aspirations for its relationship with Lyft. Testifying today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, GM’s Vice President of Strategy and Global Portfolio Planning Michael F. Ableson discussed his company’s recent acquisition of Cruise Automation in the context of autonomous driving and ridesharing, and explained that GM’s goal is to
redefin[e] the nature of personal mobility and extend our relationship with our customers beyond the car. There are four principal areas to this initiative: autonomous driving; connectivity; electrification and ride sharing. . . . [O]ur recent investment in the ride-sharing company Lyft complements GM’s expertise in autonomous vehicles by providing a ride-sharing platform to support potential deployment programs.
Lyft competitor Uber already offers its own rental program in six cities with partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car under which drivers pay $210 per week for a Toyota Corolla or comparable vehicle.