Uber may be dominating the transportation-technology space, but Lyft is hustling hard.
As Uber and Lyft both try to expand their transportation networks as rapidly as possible, drivers are a hot commodity. Expansion is constrained by the availability of drivers, and so treating drivers well is not only a feel-good proposition, but a savvy expansion strategy.
"We want to make sure that everything we do as a company enforces that we treat you better than anyone else," said Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, speaking today to a crowd of Lyft drivers at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. "We care about you, but for investors, it's simple: it's the best business decision."
The company announced a handful of product announcements aimed at wooing drivers.
First, there’s a partnership with car-rental giant Hertz which will allow Lyft drivers to rent cars at “special affordable daily, weekly, and monthly rates.” That means that if your car is unavailable on a particular day or you don’t have a car, you can still earn money driving passengers around on Lyft.
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The Hertz-Lyft partnership has been in beta in Las Vegas and will launch to other cities across the country soon.
Second, the ridesharing company known for its pink-mustache logo announced a partnership with Shell that gives drivers a discount on gas at any of the 12,500 Shell gas stations in the U.S. The more a driver logs on the road on the Lyft platform, the bigger the discount. Savings can range from a few cents off each gallon to multiple free tanks of gas per week.
And finally, Lyft announced a new product called “Express Pay” which will give drivers the ability to deposit their earnings directly to their bank accounts whenever they want, instead of waiting for a weekly deposit as has been the norm until now. Once a driver has made $50 in earnings, a button on the Lyft app will transfer those earnings to the driver’s bank account for a flat 50-cent charge.
Also as part of the presentation today, Lyft announced that it had thus far distributed $40 million in tips to drivers. This is a selling point for Lyft in attracting drivers because other ridesharing platforms, like Uber, don’t make it possible for passengers to tip within the app.
To be sure, Uber isn't sitting on the sidelines. The transportation megalith has its own suite of tactics to keep drivers happy. For example, drivers that log 200 trips a month or more can save 1.5 percent at the gas pump. Uber is also piloting a partnership with rental company called Flexdrive which allows drivers in Atlanta, Dallas, and Nashville to rent cars one week at a time.Related: Lyft CMO: Uber Is the Wal-Mart of Transportation. We Aren't.