While Uber is looking at replacing its drivers with self-driving cars, Lyft is working on getting more driver-focused.
The pink-mustachioed company announced three partnerships Thursday aimed at making Lyft driving cheaper and more accessible, and payment for drivers easier.
During a presentation before about 200 clapping and hooting drivers and other attendees at Lyft headquarters in San Francisco, executives announced that the ridesharing company would be working with Shell, Stripe and Hertz.
“We feel that we’re here to serve you,” Lyft cofounder and president John Zimmer said.
Lyft VP Tali Rapaport said after the presentation that the aim is to make driving “an easy and frictionless experience” so that virtually the entire driving population in the United States drives Lyft. Becoming a driver should be a lightweight choice so that anyone can drive part time or more, she said.
“We want to make it unbelievably easy to be a driver.”
Lyft currently has more than 100,000 drivers active each month in 150 cities, completing a total of more than 1 million rides every week, according to Zimmer. (Uber, by contrast, reported at the end of 2014 that it was providing 1 million trips daily and 140 million rides total in 2014.)
Here are details of the three partnerships that Lyft executives think will help the company inch closer to saturation of the U.S. ridesharing market that Uber now dominates.
Lyft drivers in cities where the program is being piloted will be able to earn discounts on gas purchased at Shell in proportion to how much they drive. Discounts could range from three cents per gallon to “several free tanks per week,” according to Lyft materials. The Shell savings partnership is first being piloted in San Francisco and a few other select cities, with an anticipated national rollout early next year. Exact details on how savings will be determined were not immediately available.
The new Express Pay product using payment processing startup Stripe will let Lyft drivers transfer earnings to their bank accounts immediately. Once drivers reach a minimum of $50 in their earnings account, they will be able to hit a “cash out” button in the Lyft driver app to get paid instantly. Lyft is piloting the product in the San Francisco Bay Area before what is expected to be a quick rollout to other markets, according to Rapaport.
Lyft is piloting a program in Las Vegas that allows drivers to rent cars through car rental company Hertz at reduced daily, weekly and monthly rates. The aim of the program is to allow Lyft drivers whose cars are getting work, or who own cars that don’t fit Lyft requirements on model year or number of doors, to drive. Details were not immediately available on how exact savings are determined.
Zimmer framed Lyft's new partnerships as building on other recent announcements from Lyft, including the announcement of a partnership with Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Kuaidi that allows Didi users to call a Lyft through the Didi app when in the U.S.
In addition to announcing the partnerships, Zimmer said Lyft would be hiring hundreds of new employees at its new customer experience office in Nashville. The company also recently announced it was establishing an engineering hub in Seattle.
Rapaport said she believed that implicit in the new announcements was a drive toward increasing the number of drivers at Lyft with an emphasis on part-time drivers.
“We have a goal of, like, getting cars off the road,” she said.