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    8 min read

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    Recently, RSG readers in Florida reached out to us about new driver requirements from Lyft. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur breaks down what these new requirements are, if they’re here to stay and if they’ll roll out nationwide below. 

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    We have been hearing some unusual news from the state of Florida.  Lyft in Florida is requiring that all drivers submitting vehicles for approval after July 15, 2019, must have cars which are the year 2017 or newer.

    If you submitted your car for approval prior to July 15, then the old requirements remain intact.  In other words, if you drive an older vehicle that was approved before July 15, you won’t have to swap out your car for a new one.  But when you do submit another vehicle, it will have to be a 2017 or newer.

    This article will provide documentation for this new policy and provide some rationale for Lyft’s sudden change in policy, currently only in effect in Florida.

    Lyft’s Florida Requirements

    Let’s start by looking at Lyft’s website:

    Here we see the new Lyft vehicle requirements effective July 15, 2019.  What is striking about this development is the disparity between Florida and other states.  If I pull up the same information in Georgia, a state right next to Florida, we see the vehicle requirements are a full 10 years different:

    If we travel a few states west, we see that Mississippi is even a bit more lenient, allowing cars that are the year 2005 or newer:

    What Do These Changes Look Like On The Lyft App

    Our loyal RSG reader Terra notified us of this change in policy after she tried to get her car approved in Florida.  First, we see the new requirements in the Lyft driver app:

    Next, Terra tried to input her vehicle and the app kicked out this message: The Vehicle Is Too Old.

    Terra shared her experience with RSG :

    “On August 1, 2019 I  tried to upload my car to Lyft as a 2012 Prius and when I clicked submit it said my car was too old. Hmmmm. Maybe the app is not working right… so I went to the support section for vehicle requirements for Orlando. Sure enough the rules changed and it stated it was updated at the end of July 2019. Only cars 2017 or newer.

    I had a feeling Lyft was going to only use the one card left… and that was to make their fleet newer. Plus, what a great incentive to have more people rent from companies like Fair and Lyft Express? (Insert evil laugh here.)  

    I handled the situation like any other self employed go-getter would… I said “That’s cool, Lyft. I didn’t really like driving for you anyways. Touche’ ” Uninstalled the app and gave my Lyft light to a friend as a backup. My goal is to get out of debt and pay off my education loans. I own this car and have no intention to rent a car or buy something newer to just run rideshare.”

    Thank you, Terra, for sharing your experience with us – make sure to check out our life after rideshare section on the website 🙂

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    Why Is Lyft Doing This?

    When I see a requirement, such as the age of a car being altered in various cities and states, I sense an algorithm is at play.  When Lyft increases the vehicle age requirement, a few things happen which can simultaneously hurt and benefit Lyft and also simultaneously hurt and benefit drivers.  First, Lyft is reducing the driver pool.

    This can hurt Lyft because, with fewer drivers, passengers will have to wait longer for pickups.  This is a basic feature of supply and demand.  With fewer drivers comes more demand.

    This could also lead to more Lyft Personal Power Zones (formerly known as prime time) due to higher demand and fewer cars.  On the flip side, the quality of cars on the road will slowly improve over time.  This is good for Lyft.  Since all approved vehicles since July 15 are the year 2017 or newer, the older cars, which are less desirable to most passengers, will be weeded out.

    From a driver’s perspective, this is good news for existing drivers.  If you have an approved car on the road, you can drive knowing the flow of new drivers to your market has slowed down.  With fewer drivers comes more demand so you will stay busier.

    The downside for drivers is the barrier to entry to become a rideshare driver has been raised.  All those potential drivers with cars older than 2017 will either not apply and find something else to do, or will have to upgrade to a new vehicle (or only sign up and drive with Uber).  This is exactly what we heard from Terra.  As a result of this policy, she will no longer be driving for Lyft.

    A third option is to rent a car through one of the rental companies such as Lyft’s Express Drive.  This then is another possible strategy for Lyft: make it harder for drivers to get a car approved and then point those drivers to Lyft’s Express Drive program. If you are looking for a car to drive in Florida, check out our vehicle marketplace, where you can compare Lyft Express Drive to Uber’s Fair program and more. That way, you know you’re getting the best deal for your situation.

    Why Florida and Why Not Anywhere Else?

    Based on what we think is going on, it would appear Florida is a state with a very high number of drivers relative to passengers.  Lyft must have data to support this action.

    By reducing the number of drivers, Lyft does not feel that their service will suffer greatly.  Instead, the service will be improving in that the vehicles will be newer, and in addition, more of those vehicles will be from Lyft’s own rental program, Lyft’s Express Drive.

    We reached out to Lyft to see what they would say about this change in policy and Lyft confirmed some of our beliefs about the situation:

    “Temporarily in Florida, any new vehicle added to the Lyft platform will need to be 2017 or newer, so that fewer cars are on the road during the summer months allowing current drivers to maximize their earnings. Existing drivers with vehicles 2016 or older can continue driving with their existing vehicle.”

    What Does The Future Hold?

    I recently watched a Youtube video by Dustin Is Driving and he seems to believe the new  year 2017 automobile requirement will spread across the country.  Take a look at his video and reasoning below and PS thanks for the heads up on this issue Dustin:

     

    I don’t agree.  In most markets, Uber and Lyft are in stiff competition.  Neither can lose too many drivers.  Clearly, in Florida, Lyft will lose some drivers to Uber because their automobile requirements are easier to achieve:

    Here we see that Uber only requires that the vehicle be the year 2004 or newer.  Those drivers rejected by Lyft, such as RSG reader Terra,  can focus on Uber, avoid purchasing a newer car, and can avoid using Lyft’s Express Drive program.  Time will tell how this will impact Lyft over the next year.

    Not currently an Uber driver in Florida? You may want to sign up for Uber here!

    Key Takeaways

    The fact that Lyft, and no doubt Uber in the future, can manipulate vehicle requirements to control driver supply, vehicle quality and demand for Lyft’s Express Drive is not surprising.  From a business point of view, Lyft is using its control over drivers to produce a better quality ride experience for passengers.

    What is surprising is that Lyft is making such a dramatic change in policy ahead of Uber.  As we have mentioned before about Uber vs. Lyft differences, Uber normally takes the lead and shortly thereafter, Lyft follows suit.

    I am also surprised at how dramatically Lyft has shifted the requirements to vehicles that are only three years old or newer.  From fifteen years to three is going to impact quite a few drivers.  We will have to wait and see how this impacts Lyft relative to Uber in Florida.  I expect as Lyft and Uber evaluate the data in all markets, we will continue to see shifts in the automobile requirements.

    If you are a driver in Florida with a 2017 or new vehicle, you are looking good as demand for your services is sure to increase.  If you are not in the game yet, it is going to be a bit more difficult to get started.  Drive safe out there.

    Readers, what do you think of these new requirements for Florida Lyft drivers? Do you see this rolling out in your city or state?

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    -Jay @ RSG

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.