Lyft expands services in Denver to offer car rentals

The popular ride-sharing app Lyft expanded its repertoire in Denver this month by launching a car rental service, company representatives say.

“We’re on a mission to make it easier for people to get around without owning a personal car, and a nationwide rental car offering is an integral part of our transportation vision,” Lyft Communications Manager Darcy Lee said in an email. “Whether going across the city or across the state, renters have a seamless way to reserve their next rental.”

The pilot Lyft Rentals launched in California late last year, Lee said, but this summer the company expanded to other cities across the country, landing in Denver earlier in September. Customers can rent vehicles through the existing Lyft app, which connects users to partnering car rental company Sixt.

“Unlike other rental car companies, they will select the exact vehicle they want prior to pickup,” Lee said. “When they arrive they will have a fast pickup, this means no paperwork and no long lines.”

The new service is part of an ongoing shakeup within the ride-sharing industry. The Denver City Council in August approved a second year-long pilot program where people flying into Denver International Airport can more easily rent a car and those living in Denver can earn supplemental cash by renting out theirs. Avail and Turo are the two companies participating in those pilot programs.

Aside from its car ride-sharing services, Lyft is one of the several companies that offer electric scooter services in Denver.

It’s unlikely Lyft’s newest venture will cut much into the big-name rental brands like Hertz or Budget, which are already struggling, said Skyler McKinley, director of public relations and government affairs for AAA Colorado. Instead, the company is probably positioning for the future as individual city residents become less likely to own their own cars.

Denver’s an ideal market, McKinley said, because many of those moving here are increasingly skeptical of owning vehicles. And the Lyft rentals appear well suited for short day trips or to run errands.

On the front end, the transition could benefit Denver’s roads by cutting congestion, McKinley said. But the plan could backfire if the new venture takes riders away from buses or trains services.

It’s unclear whether any other ride-sharing companies, like Uber, are attempting to launch similar rental programs in Denver, said city spokesperson Heather Burke. Because those programs offer their services online and operate privately, the city is not involved in the process, she said.

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