On Monday, Lyft announced a new partnership with General Motors, which is pumping half a billion dollars into the software startup and joining the board. One of the things they’re doing is planning to build an autonomous fleet.
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Aggressive Move to Win Drivers
Lyft and GM also announced that starting immediately, they’re rolling out a new service for the human Lyft drivers of today to rent vehicles, instead of use their own.
Many drivers buy a car, just to work for an on-demand service. And many drivers lie to their insurance companies, claiming the car is for personal — not commercial — use.
Now Lyft is reducing the burden. “This rental hub is part of a theme that you’ve seen from Lyft,” says Zimmer, “of doing things to improve the driver experience and to invest in drivers.”
The partnership with Lyft is a radical departure from that business model. In the short-term, GM will rent cars to drivers. In the long-term, GM will build a self-driving fleet in which cars are owned by a company — not bought by individual consumers.
GM President Dan Amman says the move to step away from the owner-driver model is not cannibalizing his business. It’s growing in a new area: big cities, where people don’t want to deal with the headache of owning and parking cars. They want on-demand access.
Although, when it comes to autonomous cars, Lyft and GM are not alone. Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles, according Yahoo Autos. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says his company plans to have a self-driving fleet by 2030.
My 2 cents:
The automobile giants are making their comeback, or at the very least, finding new ways to hedge against the new vision of the industry with the success and branching out of ride-sharing and the hype behind auto-cars. GM and Ford seem to be considering the possibility that clients will exchange the ownership of cars for the convenience of ride-sharing and are placing themselves in separate corners for the next auto-battle.