Lyft Teams Up With Dealers to Expand Its Driver Pool

Can Lyft and car dealers help each other out?

Josh Edelson/AP Images for Lyft

As long as it continues using human drivers, Lyft will continue to rely on them to provide their own cars. That limits the pool of potential drivers to people who can already afford their own vehicle. Lyft is partnering with the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association to work around that.

Lyft will try to connect dealers with drivers who need cars, according to a company blog post. Dealers can sign up to become Lyft "referral partners" and earn money by referring new drivers to the ride-sharing company. The scheme will also allow drivers to apply money they earn driving for Lyft to the purchase of a car.

Customers who buy cars through participating dealers will get a bonus when they sign up to drive for Lyft, a company press release said. That bonus and any future Lyft earnings can be applied directly to the down payment and monthly car payments. In theory, drivers can literally pay off their cars by working for Lyft.

Dealers can also request Lyft rides for customers whose cars are in the shop. Depending on how reliable the service is, it could prove to be a cheaper alternative to maintaining large fleets of loaner cars. Dealers also won't have to worry about what will happen to said loaner cars while in customer hands.

The partnership between Lyft and the NIADA is interesting because it brings together a disruptive, buzzword-generating ride-sharing company and a fixture of the old-school automotive landscape. 

While franchised dealerships probably aren't going anywhere, the battle between car dealers and Tesla over direct sales has shown that an alternative does exist, and reminded everyone that there is no love lost between car buyers and car dealers. Ride sharing also presents a threat to dealerships, because it could erode car sales. By partnering with Lyft, the NIADA is taking a step toward staying relevant in a changing world. At the same time, Lyft ensures people who want to drive can get cars.