Media outlets have been raving about the new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, due out in the US this fall. The reportedly roomy fully-electric hatchback has been turning heads at tradeshows and gaining recognition for its impressive 240 mile range and friendly price tag. Now, Chevrolet has announced it will start delivering its new Bolt cars to Lyft drivers before anyone else, making them the first lucky ducks to test drive the most affordable, longest-ranging electric car yet.
This agreement is an exciting follow-up to the partnership formed between General Motors and Lyft earlier this year. The companies are working together to accelerate the ride-sharing market and get a solid footing in the breakneck race toward launching autonomous cars on the road. Lyft will not be buying the Bolts but will lease them from GM, and drivers will have the opportunity to rent the cars on a weekly basis, along with other GM models. Other models that will be part of this deal include the GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu, and the Volt, says USA Today. These cars will operate as part of the companies’ joint Express Drive program, which is already running in many cities across the US, and will soon be expanded to Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
With 315,000 drivers across the US, Lyft’s decision to partner with a leading automaker is a big step forward in forming the future of ride-sharing. The change in the company’s business model could affect the way that other firms approach the field. Lyft’s major competitor today is ride-sharing giant Uber, also headquartered in San Francisco. Both firms have faced opposition from lawmakers and transport authorities because, as basically-carpooling not-quite-taxis, Lyft and Uber’s cars operate in a legal grey area. Until now, Lyft has focused its business in the US, and has made an effort to work with state and city officials to address regulatory issues. According to Skift, Lyft has spent a good amount of time in court this year, negotiating to keep its drivers classified as independent contractors. If the case goes through, Lyft will receive legal backing for its business model and for the fact that it is not a taxi service. Meanwhile, Uber has extended its reach across continents, facing local legal battles as far away as France and Australia.
Despite these ongoing issues, both companies have received funding from big investors and are looking to expand in the future, as lawmakers slowly catch up to their innovative business models. In fact, the outlook is so sunny that Lyft president John Zimmer recently promised that more than half of all rides offered by the company will be in self-driving cars by 2021. This seems like a big promise, but it may not be too big for the ride-sharing company that has had its own honorary holiday in San Francisco since 2013. As they fill our streets with shared electric vehicles, it certainly looks like partners GM and Lyft are working to overtake the future of transportation from both ends. Still, the competition is just getting started: the Wall Street Journal reported that Google quietly launched its own ride-sharing service Waze in San Francisco last week.