GM Offers Rentals to Lyft Drivers Accelerating Challenge to Uber

  • Chevrolet Equinox SUV costs $99 weekly including maintenance
  • Fees waived for people who ferry riders 65 times a week

Got a jalopy or don’t even have a car? You can still be a driver for ride-sharing service Lyft Inc.

General Motors Co. is rolling out a program called Express Drive starting in Chicago and expanding to Baltimore, Boston and Washington, D.C., that lets Lyft drivers rent a Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle for $99 a week. Renters also pay 40 cents a mile, but if the driver completes 40 rides in a week, the mileage is free, and if she handles 65, then all fees are waived, John Zimmer, Lyft president and co-founder, said in a telephone interview.

The program is GM’s latest move to get a piece of the growing market of ride-sharing services. GM bought a 9 percent stake in Lyft for $500 million in January to compete with Uber Technologies Inc., the nation’s largest ride-sharing service, and develop a network of autonomous vehicles. As GM and Lyft have been trying to grow the business in several markets, they realized that they needed to compete with Uber not only for riders, but for drivers as well.

“You don’t have to own a car to be able to earn money giving rides to passengers,” Zimmer said. “We have now made car ownership an option for both sides of the market.”

In the four cities where the program is starting, Lyft has received 150,000 applicants whose cars aren’t good enough to drive for the company, Zimmer said. Vehicles must be from the 2004 model year or newer, have four doors and pass a 19-point vehicle inspection. There are probably even more people who would want to drive for the company but don’t own a car, Zimmer said.

Maven Managed

GM has SUVs for the drivers through its Maven car-sharing business, which lets people rent cars for as little as an hour. As part of the program for Lyft drivers, GM is covering insurance and Maven manages the fleet, including maintenance, said Julia Steyn, vice president of urban mobility for GM.

Lyft also has a program called Express Pay that compensates its drivers for rides the same day they provide service.

“We are trying to scale this up very quickly,” Steyn said of the Express Drive program.

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