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After idiotic self-driving car boasts, Lyft wants to assure drivers it still loves them vewwy vewwy much

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on January 28, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

Earlier this week, Sarah wrote about how Lyft seems determined to follow Uber's footsteps.

That determination now even extends to reversing the company's traditional "we love our drivers forever" mantra and boasting about how driverless cars are the future. 

John Zimmer and Logan Green's sudden love for robot vehicles coincides, of course, with the company's $500m investment from GM. Still, as Sarah wrote, it's a gigantic fuck you for the drivers who have considered Lyft a cuddlier, friendlier alternative to big bad Uber. Not least because truly self driving cars are at least a decade away. 

Clearly the criticism hit a nerve. Just hours after Sarah's piece was published, the company began scrambling to reassure drivers that -- no, no, no -- Lyft still loves them vewwy vewwy much. 

Then, yesterday afternoon, Zimmer and Green sent an email to passengers, headed #ThankYourLyftDriver, encouraging them to share stories of how amazing and wonderful their Lyft drivers are, and also to make their appreciation known during rides...

In addition to affordability, we know you choose Lyft because of the country's best community of drivers who power our movement. We’ve always believed that each ride is an opportunity to delight and perform simple acts of kindness — or in some cases, extraordinary ones.

This week Lyft driver Jilson Daniels in Kentucky helped two loving parents give birth to their baby daughter. Every day we hear countless stories of Lyft driver heroism. From braving blizzards, to helping with marriage proposals, or simply making your day with a safe, quiet ride and that perfect song, drivers carry our vision forward and create magic... 

Why do the best drivers choose Lyft? Because of you, and all the other amazing passengers in the Lyft community. Next time you have a great ride, take a moment to thank your driver. 

At a time when driver patience is stretched to breaking point by lowered rates across the board, the last thing any ridesharing company needs is any more reason for a driver revolt. That's why Lyft's sudden praise for driverless cars, coming just after it had to cut its own driver payments to compete with Uber, seemed so wrongheaded and why the company is now apparently scrambling to do whatever it can to reassure drivers of their importance to the company.

What remains to be seen is whether that extends to defying its new GM investors by toning down the "self-driving cars are the future" rhetoric.