Former Tesla Exec Joins Lyft As Head of Driver Experience

Lyft wants to improve support services for its drivers.

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Kelly Sullivan—Getty Images for Lyft

Lyft has hired former Tesla executive Karim Bousta as its new Vice President of Driver Experience Operations. Bousta will spearhead Lyft's ongoing efforts to provide more support to its drivers.

"I'm all about the drivers," Bousta said in a Lyft blog post. "We know that the biggest burden of driving is the cost of vehicle maintenance, servicing, and insurance. My goal is to severely reduce or eliminate that burden and put more money back in our drivers' pockets."

Indeed, a recent study found that vehicle operating costs can erode drivers' earnings. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that about half of drivers working for Lyft and rival Uber make less than minimum wage once fuel and maintenance costs are factored in. Lyft has made some effort to address this, pledging to invest $100 million in driver-support centers, and offering more perks to drivers. Bousta will be in charge of coordinating these efforts.

To start, Bousta will lead Lyft's Express Drive rental program. Launched in 2016 and operated in concert with Hertz and Flexdrive, the program provides rentals to Lyft drivers who don't own their own cars, or just don't want to use the cars they do own for ride hailing. Lyft claims drivers who rent frequently can save up to $4,500 per year on insurance and maintenance costs. Bousta wants to make it easier and more cost-effective for drivers to rent cars, the company said.

Bousta joins Lyft from Tesla, where he served as the automaker's Vice President of World Service and Customer Experience. Prior to that, he was Symantec's Vice President of Global Technical Services. Both jobs were focused on customer service. At Lyft, Bousta will report to COO Jon McNeill, who is also a former Tesla executive. McNeill joined Lyft earlier this year after serving as Tesla's head of sales and service.