Feb 5, 2016 ยท 2 minutes

A few weeks ago, we were pretty hard on Lyft’s “OMG SELF DRIVING CARS!” press tour for two main reasons:

  • It wasn’t original. Uber has been talking up a self-driving car future for years and Lyft used to pride itself on differentiation.
  • It’s a hostile message to send to drivers who are already upset about fare cuts with zero upside. Self driving cars are 6-10 years away. Why run around to news outlets dreaming up futuristic visions of it now?

Of course, the most logical reason was Lyft’s recent deal with GM.

To be fair, Lyft has seemingly been agonizing about recent fare cuts, and trying mightily to communicate to drivers how much they care. Meantime Uber has been blocking them on Twitter. But that’s what made the embrace of future robot drivers all the more strange.

It seems Lyft wasn’t completely unaware at how the we-can’t-wait-to-make-you-obsolete message might land. See if you can spot the difference in the way the Lyft discussed that deal with reporters and drivers (courtesy of a newsletter sent to us by a driver yesterday.)

Reporters first:

But with its fleet of “experience pods” dedicated to different themes, situations, and needs, Lyft’s driverless ride-hail service is an opportunity for the company to deliver on a promise it’s held close since the beginning: a superior rider experience. After all, when there are no drivers in the picture, you can focus all your energy on the passenger....

At least that’s what Lyft Creative Director Jesse McMillin and his team have started to imagine, here and now in the not-yet-driverless world, just a few weeks after the company announced a partnership with General Motors to create and manufacture an on-demand driverless network...

At the core of McMillin’s project is a fascinating question: What happens to the car when it’s no longer driven by a human? “Most cars are designed around the driver,” McMillin told BuzzFeed News. “Literally, you have the seat positioned a certain way and the window look a certain way for the driver.” But, he said, when you eliminate the human driver, “it’s a new world where … a vehicle is freed up to do different things.” 

And to drivers:

Lyft’s partnership with GM is about eliminating the human driver!

JK! Lyft’s partnership with GM is about helping human drivers rent affordable cars!