Lyft Introduces High-End Service to Battle Uber Black

Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV are the company's latest attempts to take a bite out of Uber's business.

TOM KIRKPATRICK

Lyft aims to challenge Uber for ride-sharing dominance, and to do that, it's taking aim at an area of the market dominated by the larger company: luxury rides.

Uber started out dispatching livery-service "black cars," while Lyft aimed for a more down-to-earth image. But now Lyft is introducing a new service, in order to compete directly with the high-end Uber Black. Left Lux promises rides in luxury cars or SUVs (the latter branded as Lyft Lux SUV).

The service is rolling out now in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Chicago, according to a Lyft blog post. Lyft Lux uses sedans, while Lyft Lux SUV uses utility vehicles that can seat at least six passengers. Lyft promises vehicles with "leather or leather-like seats" for both services, with black paint jobs.

Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV are meant to offer a higher level of luxury than Lyft's other premium service, Lyft Premier, which launched last year. Judging by the services' FAQ page, the difference seems to be largely down to the cars. Example cars listed for Lyft Premier include the BMW X3, GMC Yukon Denali, and Lexus ES, while Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV get the BMW 5 Series and X5, Lexus LS, and Cadillac Escalade. 

Lyft Premier is also available in more cities than the new services. Drivers who own cars that qualify for Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV can also drive passengers for Lyft's regular service.

Lyft has aggressively pursued Uber, but as a much smaller company, it's faced an uphill battle. The company may be able to gain advantage not through new services, however, but by simply maintaining a better public image than Uber, which is dealing with a seemingly never-ending array of scandals. Lyft ridership soared in the first quarter of this year, indicating Uber's troubles may be helping the smaller ride-sharing firm.