- The ride-sharing service Lyft has rolled out a new and improved Ditch Your Car program available until mid-December to "select riders" in three cities.
- Online car-sales company Carvana will buy the customer's vehicle, then get them started on a newly carless existence with some Lyft credits, which can include free scooter rentals.
- Last year, Ditch Your Car only meant not using it for a month.
Of all the things the internet says you're supposed to vow to do or not do in November—from shaving to writing a novel to taking a vow of celibacy—perhaps getting rid of one's personal vehicle is the one that would most affect the daily life of the average person. Nevertheless, this month Lyft has brought back its "Ditch Your Car for a Month" program and has doubled down by teaming with Carvana to suggest people ditch their cars forever. Last year, Lyft gave 150,000 people in 35 cities some free ride credits if they promised not to use their car for a month. This year, you actually have to sell your car to Carvana in exchange for the Lyft benefits.
At first blush, Lyft and Carvana don’t necessarily have the same corporate mission. One wants to sell you a car and the other wants to help you live without a car at all. But this promotion actually works with both agendas. Participants in Ditch Your Car can sell their car to Carvana—"assuming it has positive value after liens," Lyft emphasizes—and be paid not only the standard Carvana purchase offer, but also get $250 in Lyft credit and a free three-month membership in Lyft's Pink frequent-rider program.
The new Ditch Your Car offer is only available to Lyft users in three cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And even then, only "select riders" there will get the invitation email.
Lyft Pink normally costs $20 a month and includes a 15 percent discount on each ride, a waiver of some of Lyft's fees, and other perks such as getting bumped to the front of the line at busy pickup spots. Lyft Pink also includes free bike or scooter rentals in some cities, but the only market where this benefit and Ditch Your Car overlaps is San Francisco.
Of course, Lyft admits that there’s nothing stopping you from turning around and just buying another vehicle and still getting the credits, but the company's FAQ asks directly: "Is a personal vehicle really still worth all the hassle and money?"
Lyft is considering expanding its Ditch Your Car promotion to other markets and is collecting names on a waiting list to determine if there's enough interest. A survey of Lyft users last year found 22 percent discovered owning a car became less important once they started using Lyft regularly, which implies that the potential is there for expansion.
Lilly Shoup, Lyft's senior director for transportation policy, said in a statement that the company's aim is a future where cities are built around people, not cars, and said the program will "make it easier than ever for people to ditch their car for good."
The Ditch Your Car promotion ends December 16. While Lyft says anyone signing up for the deal should get an offer from Carvana in about two minutes, it does say that it can take up to five business days to process the credits in your Lyft account.
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