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Lyft to open repair centers

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 07:00
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Ride-hailing company Lyft is getting into the auto repair business, at least for its own contract drivers. In March, the company announced Lyft Driver Services, a set of new services that the company says will help save time and money for its drivers. As part of the new service, Lyft plans to open several dozen mechanical and collision repair shops across the country. The first such repair site opened in San Francisco in March.

The company is trying to provide ways to make life easier for its fleet of roughly 2 million drivers while also reducing their expenses, said a company spokesperson.

The programs include a new no-fee debit card (Lyft Direct) that allows direct payment to the driver’s account, and also provides other benefits. The company is also expanding its Express Drive service, which provides rental cars to drivers that either don’t have a vehicle or don’t have one that is up to Lyft’s standards. The company is expanding the number of participating locations, as well as increasing the number of “green” rentals in order to reduce fuel costs.

The new driver service centers are an extension of the existing Lyft hubs, which are currently focused more on community engagement and technical support for drivers.

In a blog post announcing the services, Lyft COO Jon McNeill said, “Drivers will be served by Lyft team members, including certified mechanics, selected for their expertise and passion for helping our community.”

McNeill added that the locations will also include community space so that drivers can get in-person support with taxes, hospitality education, language learning, and other services. “This builds on a successful pilot with Intuit in our existing local Hubs,” McNeill said.

“The whole goal is turn this into more of a community atmosphere,” said a company spokesperson.

According to Lyft, the company hopes to have 35 repair centers up and running by the end of 2019. So far, the company has launched a prototype repair center in San Francisco as well as a test center in Philadelphia. Zoning requirements may limit what types of repairs are conducted at the centers (the San Francisco location, for example, is not currently zoned for collision repair), but the plan is to provide oil changes, car washes, autobody repair, brake service, and other basic repairs.

Each center will have 12 to 14 full-time mechanics and technicians. The company has posted a few job listings for these sites (you can view one here).

Lyft is also launching a mobile repair service for drivers who aren’t located near a repair center. “They can call the service center and have things like their brake pads changed by the mobile service,” the Lyft spokesperson said. “There are other smaller repairs that can be done that way, too, including windshield repair.”

Lyft also indicated that the company plans to provide repairs at as much as 50 percent less than market cost, and to have repairs completed in half the time of a typical shop since the locations will focused exclusively on Lyft drivers. The San Francisco location currently charges $95 per hour. There will also be packaged deals for drivers, such as getting an oil change, car wash and tire rotation for $70.

The spokesperson said that more details about the service centers would be announced over the next several months. Lyft launched its initial public offering (IPO) at the end of March.

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