Uber's U.S. competitor Lyft has teamed with General Motors (NYSE: GM) to launch the Express Drive Program, a rental platform that gives Lyft drivers access to GM cars. The initiative will provide a free rental car to drivers who complete more than 65 rides a week for Lyft, while less frequent drivers will be charged a $99 per week flat fee plus additional mileage costs. The announcement comes just two months after GM provided $500 million toward Lyft's $1 billion Series F round at a valuation of $5.5 billion.
Lyft has received funding from major VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz, but its partnership with GM may be its most important yet. The new program should not only result in new drivers coming to Lyft—including those who previously couldn't because the car they owned didn't match the company's specifications—but also incentivizes those drivers to work more hours each week, in turn increasing the company's visibility and ridership.
The Lyft/GM partnership was also made with the intention of creating a long-term strategic alliance between the companies, with the ultimate goal of developing an integrated network of on-demand autonomous cars in the U.S. Uber is itself investing in the development of such systems, but Lyft is now partnered with a major car manufacturer already creating its own driverless technology—and investing heavily to do so. Last week, GM agreed to acquire autonomous car technology Cruise for $1 billion, a move that ensured GM is at the forefront of the new technology.