Car rental options pop up again for ride-share drivers, but it’s still not worth it

Car rental options pop up again for ride-share drivers, but it's still not worth it
Lyft partners with Avis for more car rental opportunities for drivers.
Lyft partners with Avis for more car rental opportunities for drivers.
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The same story line kept coming up in the early days of ride-hail driving apps: I leased a car to drive for Uber or Lyft, and it ended up costing me too much.

That repeated problem and a bad business model led to the end of Uber’s Xchange Leasing program in 2017. But now a new crop of services and programs are emerging. On Monday, Lyft announced a new deal with Avis: Drivers can rent a car via the Lyft app from the rental car company’s fleet of 600,000 vehicles as part of its Express Drive program. 

Lyft said that since the program launched in 2016, drivers who rent have earned $450 million. No mention on how much they spent to rent a car each week.

Uber still has car rental options (known as “vehicle solutions”) through Hertz. It promises $2,500 in earnings after 200 trips. Renting a car for a week or longer costs $214 per week. There’s also a $200 refundable one-time deposit. 

For shorter-term leases, Uber started partnering with Getaround last year, charging $5 per hour.

Looking at third-party rental programs, last month HyreCar, a car-sharing platform for ride-share drivers, announced a partnership with DriveItAway to rent cars to drivers from car dealerships

GM’s Maven car-share program, Maven Gig, has a whole unit devoted to renting GM cars, like Chevys and Bucks, to drivers starting at $199 per week. Last month the company announced a car-sharing service for drivers to rent out their cars. These cars could be used for ride-share and delivery drivers looking for weekly rentals. The peer-to-peer car-sharing kicked off in Chicago, Detroit, and Ann Arbor before it fully launches nationwide in a few months.

But looking at the cost of these services and how much drivers actually earn, it doesn’t always add up. Sure there are some aggressive power drivers who drive ridiculous hours and maximize their earnings. But that’s not representative of the average worker.

Recent studies show Uber and Lyft drivers barely make living wages in the various cities they drive passengers. San Francisco recently subpoenaed the ride-hail companies to see what driver wages really are. Lyft at the time said drivers earn about $25 per hour before expenses, which the company put at $3 to $5 per hour. Ride-share blog The Rideshare Guy‘s annual survey found that Uber and Lyft drivers earn about $17 an hour. 

If someone is spending about $200 on a vehicle each week — which, remember, doesn’t include fuel costs and taxes and fees and initial set-up costs — that already eats up almost $1,000 in earnings a month. Detailed breakdowns of rental costs consistently show these programs end up costing a lot more each year.

So yes, maintenance and other charges are covered, but as another ride-share blogger concluded, it’s cheaper to use a car you already own. 

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Author:Sasha Lekach

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