Want to drive for Lyft but lack the fundamental car? No problem: GM will now rent out a Chevy Equinox for you to use, which will cost between $100 per week or nothing at all if you clock up enough Lyft journeys in the vehicle.
The new service will first launch in Chicago, before rolling out to Boston, Washington, DC, and Baltimore. If it goes well, expect the initiative to spread further afield, too. The scheme, called Express Drive, will have a tapered cost depending on the amount of work a driver does for Lyft. Give fewer than 40 rides per week and you’ll pay $100 per week plus 20 cents per mile; rack up between 40 and 64 rides per week and the mileage costs gets dropped; and nudge over the 65 mark and the entire rental is free. Drivers pay for fuel, but all other costs are wrapped up in the rental fee.
The initiative has come about because a lot of people apply to drive for Lyft but don’t have a qualifying car. In fact, Lyft points out that in Chicago alone 60,000 people applied to drive for it last year but weren’t allowed to because of their vehicle. So this solution will put more Lyft drivers and GM cars on the road.
The two companies first decided to team up back in January, with GM investing $500 million in Lyft to build a network of autonomous cars. While it may not be immediately obvious how this scheme links into those plans, think about the business model here: leasing cars out rather than selling them; discounting for heavy users; tie-ins between car manufacturers and software providers. If ever there was a proof-of-concept for how a co-ownership model may work for self-driving cars, this it it.