GM has 5K cars in Lyft rental program, to add Bolt EVs

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. has about 5,000 vehicles deployed in its rental Express Drive program for Lyft Inc. drivers and early next year plans to add a few hundred Chevrolet Bolt EVs in two California markets.

GM launched the Express Drive program under its Maven mobility company in March in Chicago. Express Drive resulted as part of GM’s partnership with Lyft that stemmed from the automaker’s $500 million investment into the ride-hailing company earlier in the year.

Maven also includes car-sharing services in several U.S. cities including Ann Arbor and Detroit. GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in October that nearly 10,000 vehicles were planned to be part of Maven’s car-sharing and Express Drive programs by the end of the year.

Express Drive will be in a dozen major metro markets by the end of 2016 with more to come in 2017. It launched in Metro Detroit in mid-September and 350 Lyft ride-sharing drivers have signed up.

“That literally grows by the day,” said Rachel Bhattacharya, director of commercial mobility and autonomous vehicle fleet operations for GM’s urban active operations.

GM’s 2017 Bolt EV, an all-electric crossover with 238 miles of range, recently began production at the Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township. Early next year it will be added to the Express Drive fleet for Lyft drivers initially in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Bhattacharya said.

“We’re going to target them according to market demand,” she said, adding some riders and drivers prefer electric vehicles.

Bhattacharya said more Bolt EVs will be added to Express Drive based on interest from drivers, she said. She said GM is adding hundreds of vehicles a week to Express Drive.

GM and Lyft are working to develop a fleet of self-driving Bolt EVs that could be tested and used for ride-sharing purposes. That fleet is expected to be tested within a few years.

Through Express Drive, drivers can rent nearly new 2015 and 2016 GM vehicles on a short-term basis. For example, a Chevrolet Cruze is available for $135 a week, plus mileage fees. GM pays for insurance. Lyft will cover the entire rental for drivers that fulfill 50 rides or more a week. Early next year, GM will offer flat-rate, unlimited mileage rentals for Express Drive Lyft drivers in Metro Detroit.

Having used GM cars slated for ride-sharing is helping GM avoid some of the lower auction prices on used cars. Many used cars are sold at auctions and because more vehicles are coming off lease, used car prices are declining.

GM also is working with Lyft rival and ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies Inc. The companies launched a pilot in November in San Francisco to give people who want to drive for Uber a chance to rent a GM vehicle, too. Bhattacharya said several dozen vehicles are part of the Uber pilot and GM is looking to grow its program with Uber into other cities.

Bhattacharya said Maven plans to grow its “business to business offerings.”

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