June 19, 2018
As a part of Lyft’s $100 million investment nationwide, they are combining their temporary Detroit locations to form a new permanent one in the same city. Their goal is to improve services, benefit drivers, and pique the interest of local auto partners. Lyft communications specialist Zachary Kizer said that the company is excited by how the Detroit community has welcomed Lyft and that further details will be announced in the coming months.
In January 2016, General Motors bought a 9 percent stake in the ride-hailing company with plans to deploy their autonomous vehicles through the platform. Interestingly, GM has other plans in the works to both invest in and compete with Lyft. These plans encompass the acquisition of Cruise Automation for self-driving vehicles and deploying self-driving taxis by 2019. GM also plans to launch the Maven brand, a short-term car rental company and plans to partner Maven with Uber Technologies, Inc., a direct Lyft competitor.
After investing $500 million into Lyft, GM has earned almost a 50 percent return, even though they have been quite general in communications about their relationship. In fact, Dave Roman, General Motors director of corporate communications, said that they did not play a role in Lyft’s new downtown Detroit operations and that inquiries should be directed to Lyft. However, AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan notes that the move will benefit both the city of Detroit and any automakers who decide to invest in Lyft, no matter the primary focus in driver services.
Sullivan went on to say that these efforts may help increase the morale of both Lyft drivers and riders. Unlike Uber, Lyft has avoided much of the negative publicity. Any investment Lyft makes in Detroit is a step in the right direction as Maven, GM, and Ford have committed investments in new ways for the transportation of people and goods. Ford recently partnered with Lyft in September 2017 that includes the deployment of Ford human-driven vehicles and autonomous vehicles into ride-hailing fleets by 2021. Located only 10 miles from the heart of Detroit, Ford’s Dearborn headquarters views this partnership as pertinent to commercializing self-driving vehicle technology and expects to gain from Lyft’s new combined Detroit location.
Both GM and Ford say that their investments into Lyft operate outside of investments with Lyft competitors. Lyft is also funded by and partnered with Alphabet, Inc., an investment unit of Google. All of these partnerships and investments have made ride-hailing services more competitive and popular within Detroit.
Lyft’s new offices will be between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet and will open no later than the fall of 2018. The current 10 full-time Lyft employees already working for Lyft in Detroit will move to this office. For now, Lyft executives remain tight-lipped about the address or neighborhood for the new operations space. They are also unsure of how much money will be required for the project. However, they have reported that the new Detroit hub will be the local administrative headquarters for the company and a place where drivers can get assistance and support. It will also be used for class space and community events.