By on March 15, 2016


Old car? Can’t get a driving job? Not a problem.

If you’re looking to drive for the ride-sharing service Lyft in Chicago, General Motors wants to get you into a new Chevrolet Equinox.

Under its Express Drive program, Lyft drivers whose own cars don’t meet the company’s standards can finance an Equinox at a declining rate — starting at a maximum of $99/week — with insurance and maintenance included.

The program, which rolls out later this month in Chicago and will see Lyft drivers pay less for the Equinox the more passenger-carrying trips they make, is expected to be rolled out in other major U.S. cities — including Boston, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore — later this year.

GM said a large demand exists for new vehicles among Lyft drivers, with 60,000 applicants in Chicago alone unable to drive for the service due to the age of their own cars.

“Launching Express Drive is another way we treat drivers better, in addition to Power Driver Bonus, tips and same day payouts,” said Lyft president and co-founder John Zimmer in a statement. “We’re making sure everyone who wants to be a Lyft driver can be, by providing ultimate flexibility at incredible rates.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what General Motors planned to get out of the $500 million it invested in the San Francisco-based Lyft back in January, but the picture’s now becoming clearer. At the time, much of the talk revolved around a future autonomous service where no one drove anyone or anything. Until that vision comes to pass, GM seems pretty happy having regular humans pilot its Chevrolets.

GM president Dan Ammann has said Express Drive will use the mobility software developed for the company’s Maven car-sharing program.

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25 Comments on “GM to Lyft Applicants: Baby, You Can Drive My Car...”

  • avatar

    Wow. That’s basically a free car. I can imagine what insurance alone costs in Chicago. Given that a full time driver could easily run 40-50k miles a year, that payment in no way covers the cost of the Equinox.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d like to see how the money works out – how much driving you must do weekly for the $99/week rate. And if you have to give the car back if their trackers show you’re not doing the required mileage.

    • 0 avatar

      ” that payment in no way covers the cost of the Equinox.”

      to be very conservative*, these Equinoxes will be driven: 13 mph (Chicago traffic, stop/go streed grid, idling for passengers) * 8 hours per day * 300 days per year, ie. 30k+ miles …..over some of the most awful roads in the country—tourist areas are acceptable to decent, nearly everywhere else, third world level—even in wealthy neighborhoods.

      you do the depreciation math.

      Great day to be a GM shareholder! (someone at RenCen obviously doesn’t understand what REAL Uber/Lyft driving is, nor the concept of adverse selection)

      ps, don’t buy any 2 y.o. used Equinoxes w/50k miles in the foreseeable future.

      *Source: personal experience driving Uber/Lyft during school breaks (using a 9 year old, long ago paid-off Prius).

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. I thought the Equinox was selling well. Why is GM literally throwing them away as Lyft taxis? If I was a Lyft driver in Chicago I’d jump on that deal in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    There used to be a thing where you worked for someone else under a contract. You enhanced the use of their property in return for a pittance. You worked harder and harder, yet the owner took more and more, and dangled future independence in front of you. You weren’t quite their employee, nor were you free to do what you wanted.

    Oh yeah, it was called indentured servitude.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hall

      I doubt this is much of a deal for the driver, but unless GM can call on the police to prevent drivers from quitting the program, it’s not indentured servitude.

      • 0 avatar

        Could slash your credit rating and count as a repo – a modern day enforcement of its own! :)

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        They probably have a clause where you can “buy your freedom” with a balloon payment on a now worthless car. It’s in GM’s interest to make sure you stay upside-down on this loan as long as possible. You will owe you soul to the company store.

        • 0 avatar

          Well, I rose one mornin’, it was hot as a fox
          Picked up the keys to the man’s Equinox
          Logged fourteen hours out givin’ folks rides,
          An’ the Lyft boss said “well bless-a my hide!”
          “You spent all day haulin’ three’n nine pax,
          An’ you cleared maybe couple hun’erd bucks after tax”
          Don’t you take me sweet Jesus, cause I can’t go-
          My kids don’t eat ‘less I make these wheels roll.

          • 0 avatar

            Very nice, CW!
            I thought of the coal miners when I read the article, too.
            Dangling the idea of financial independence through long-term expense and work makes me think this is just General Motors’ version of Amway.

    • 0 avatar

      These days it’s called an H-1b visa. And if you don’t like it, you can open up your own damn dealership!

    • 0 avatar

      This describes it as a *rental* program.

      Which makes all of that kind of irrelevant.

      • 0 avatar

        “*The cost when driving for personal use is 20¢/mile.”

        That will rack up quickly. Any time you’re not “on fare” is going to count as personal use.

        -You must maintain a weekly 90% acceptance rate to qualify for any bonus under this program.

        -No more than 2 rides to the same passenger will count toward your ride total for determining whether you meet the applicable ride count criteria.

        -Personal use miles (i.e., all miles driven while not in “driver mode” within the Lyft app) are not covered by this bonus program and will be charged at $0.20 per mile.

        -By participating in this rental program you acknowledge and agree that you will not be eligible for the Lyft Power Driver Bonus or Average Hourly

        -Guarantee promotions for the duration of your rental period.

        -Applicable taxes will be added to all rental charges. In Chicago, if you drive less than 50% of miles in “driver mode” within the Lyft app an additional 9% lease tax will apply to all rental charges.

        -This bonus program does not cover any applicable rental fees that may apply.
        See the Maven rental agreement for details on fees.

        -All rental charges you incur under this program will be deducted from your Lyft driver earnings, if applicable. If such funds are insufficient to cover applicable rental charges, Lyft will charge your payment method on file.

        Maven Fees:
        2. Fees. All Fees will be charged to the payment method you provide when you enroll.

        a) Membership Fees. The annual membership fee to participate in Maven is $35.00 plus applicable taxes. This fee will be charged recurrently on an annual basis throughout your membership.

        b) Usage Fees. You agree to pay us usage fees per the then current usage rate associated with the Vehicle you choose when you make the reservation plus applicable taxes that are incurred in connection with use of a Vehicle associated with your account. The payment method you provided that is on file, automatically will be charged for every Trip upon booking the reservation.

        c) Late Fees. If you return the Vehicle later than the end reservation time, a $50 late fee plus applicable taxes will be charged per hour in addition to the usage rate of the Vehicle unless you have reported the Vehicle as stolen. Members must click “End Trip” in the Maven App upon returning their Vehicle. Failure to do so may result in late fees.

        d) Mileage Fees. You will have a 180 mile maximum driving distance per 24 hour day per reservation from the original parking location. For Trips driven above 180 miles per day, you agree to pay $0.42 per mile plus applicable taxes.

        e) Low Fuel Fees. Vehicles must be returned with at least ¼ tank of gas. A $30 fee plus applicable taxes will be charged if you returned the Vehicle from your reservations with below a ¼ tank of gas.

  • avatar

    ***See the USA while working as an independent contractor with no benefits, fixed wage (at all), pension or other retirement plan of any kind, while being a taxi driver using a company store MAYBE subsidized-payment rental vehicle (probably not subsidized at all when the final fine print is tallied; so, this vehicle will probably cost much more than a regularly purchased or leased Equinox), and try to drive 50 to 70 hours a week in order to chase that new vehicle adhesive aroma and MAYBE subsidy from General Motors.

    From General Motors, just one of many corporations that used to help millions of Americans (direct employees and suppliers’ employee, as well as small business owners that relied on these solidly middle class, secure workers, that now will lure your a$$ into company store taxi driver, debt-fueled serfdom.

    See the USA in your Chevrolet!

    The American Dream. TM

    • 0 avatar

      And they get rid of a bunch of lousy Equinoxes at the same time.

    • 0 avatar

      Almost as bad as being an insurance paramedical examiner.

    • 0 avatar

      You can work a lot of hours, and have to work a lot to provide your required rides. But not more than 180 miles a day, that’s your max. No benefit for the week if you don’t accept 90% of rides offered.

      Also membership fee $35/yr.

      Also cleaning fee if there’s any dirt.

      Also put in fuel to 1/4 tank, using your own personal miles to the fuel station ($.20/mi).

      Also return car to pickup area, meaning after your 12 hour shift you’re on public transport.

      Suuuuch a good deal.

  • avatar

    An Equinox out the door (MSRP plus tax, registration, doc fees and back-room BS add-ons) will run about $30,000. At 99 dollars a week, that’s six years, not including interest. Most likely the contract will run 7 or 8 years, possibly longer, since the payments decline:
    “Lyft drivers whose own cars don’t meet the company’s standards can finance an Equinox at a declining rate — starting at a maximum of $99/week”.
    Then the Lyft driver has an 8-year old Equinox which will be worth practically nothing, since it will have more than 250,000 miles on it. They will be upside-down on the loan until the car ends up in the junkyard.
    Maybe GM hopes it will get traded in on a new Chevy, but most likely they will be creating more drivers who will never, ever buy another GM vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The Equinox isn’t the type of car you would want to put into taxi service.

      You can get a Camry Hybrid for the same money and save half on gas, or a Prius for a lot less. Any mid-size sedan is probably a better choice as well.

      I can’t imagine how bad your life would need to be to find this offer appealing. You are shacking-up with GM, a company who wouldn’t spend 30 cents to save your life, giving them half your earnings up front, and half of what’s left in monthly payments. You can’t quit without taking a huge financial hit (that you can’t afford), you’ve got no job security, no benefits, your boss is some stupid app. Any time they want they can stop sending fares your way, and you wouldn’t even be able to prove it. The only way to get some financial breathing space is by working 18 hour days. No way to take time off, you only make a couple bucks an hour after expenses, and GM wants its hundred every week like a loan shark.

    • 0 avatar

      See above.

      It’s a *rental* program, not a lease/buy program.

      You don’t get to keep the car – and you also can’t get locked into it, by all appearances.

      • 0 avatar

        Think about this, in order for the rental to be free you must give 65 rides. Even if all rides only take 15 minutes, and there are -zero- minutes between rides, that’s 975 minutes per week. 16.25hr.

        So you’re at half of a full work week just to break even on your rental – assuming the entire time you’re working is filled with rides. Subtract a few dollars if you perhaps need to use the restroom during a day, or stop to consume foods of human variety.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle


        The article here said that “Lyft drivers whose own cars don’t meet the company’s standards can finance an Equinox at a declining rate,” which makes it sound like a lease.

        The press release makes it sound more like a rental, with a phone book’s worth of fine print.

        Either way, you are still working for GM, with none of the benefits (literally and figuratively). As Corey points out, you will spend half your week just covering your costs. Don’t forget gas, plus you don’t get any credit for the time/distance between dropoff and pickup. Somebody will be making a killing off this, and a 5 or 6 figure bonus. It won’t be the drivers.

  • avatar

    They’d be better off leasing a Jetta at VW’s crazy low rates.

  • avatar

    Once again – if Toyota had announced this the Prius C or Prius Vthis would be hailed as genius. GM is doing it, they must be looking to shackle people in indentured servitude and looking for ways to lose money.

    Pay no attention to those profits, or how the other government bailout FCA is circling the drain.

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