Lyft, which once pitched itself as “your friend with a car,” has rolled out a luxury ride-hail service in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, San Jose and Chicago. Think UberBlack, but with fist bumps and a pink app.
It’s not entirely clear why the company has decided to allocate time or resources to launching and then maintaining the efficiency of a luxury service when Uber — which started as a premium transportation provider — has publicly talked about the waning demand there’s been for UberBlack.
“Demand for UberBlack has been outpaced by UberX for the last two years,” Josh Mohrer, the New York general manager, told the New York Post in 2016. “As a result, drivers on UberBlack are not getting as many trips as they want.”
At that point, UberBlack drivers made up a little less than 20 percent of Uber’s workforce but only performed about 6 percent of the rides.
A few months before that, Uber said it was pausing hiring of UberBlack drivers in the three of the markets Lyft just launched its Lux service.
A Lyft spokesperson said that the rollout was in response to rider and driver feedback.
“We heard from our community that there was a desire for a black car experience on the Lyft platform,” a Lyft spokesperson told Recode. “This allows drivers who meet the requirements to earn higher wages, and passengers to arrive in style to any business meeting or formal event.”
The company pointed out that the team wasn’t actively recruiting drivers for this specific service and is simply opening up the option to drive for this service to those who qualify. In other words, the drivers have to have a 4.7 or higher rating and a car with a black exterior and leather interior that is model year 2011 or newer and is one of these makes or models.
The language Lyft uses to explain the new service to drivers expands on that:
“Your black car is your moneymaker. You keep it clean on the inside and polished on the outside. It’s always in tip-top shape. You even have a preferred air freshener scent. Because a nicer car should earn you more cash.”
Fortunately for Lyft, drivers are likely to operate on both Uber and Lyft in San Francisco, Los Angles and New York. So, securing supply is a little bit easier for Lyft, as it can simply offer the additional premium options to drivers who do UberBlack or UberXL trips.
But, supply for those high-end services was never a problem for Uber — demand was.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.