Lyft users in Baltimore will be able to request a high-end black car or SUV beginning Thursday, when the company launches its Lux and Lux SUV services in the city and more than a dozen others across the country.
The latest offering from the San Francisco-based ride-share company is a step up from its current Premier option, which offers rides with a highly rated driver in a high-end, leather-interior vehicle "that's not always a luxury black car," said Mike Heslin, Lyft's market manager for Baltimore.
"With Lux, you're getting the super-luxury, premium, black car service," he said.
Lyft declined to release the exact starting price of a Lux ride, but the service is three to five times more expensive than a basic Lyft fare, and one-and-a-half to two times more than Premier, Heslin said. Minimum fare in Baltimore is $4.50 for a regular Lyft and $8.50 for Premier, so the minimum Lux price could range from roughly $12.75 to $22.50.
"The pricing will be consistent with what passengers would expect from a black-car service," Heslin said.
To qualify for Lux, drivers must have a 2011-or-newer model, high-end vehicle and at least a 4.7-star rating on the app from riders. The list of approved vehicles includes Porsches, Jaguars, Lincolns, Cadillacs, Teslas, Rolls Royces and Maseratis as well as some high-end Toyota, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Volvo models.
The vehicles are required to have black exterior "in excellent condition" and leather or leather-like seats. To qualify for Lux SUV, they must seat six or more riders.
In addition to Baltimore, Lyft is rolling out the new service Thursday in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, New Jersey, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Lux is already available in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
The service was created in response to feedback from drivers and passengers, Heslin said.
"Drivers have these super-high-end, black-car vehicles, and they are always looking for opportunities to earn more," he said. "We've also heard from passengers in some cases that they're looking for a high-end, luxury, black-car experience."
Baltimore was chosen because it is "a vibrant, growing city" with many business travelers and entertainment options, such as the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and the Hippodrome Theatre, Heslin said.
"I could see a lot of people taking this for big night at the Horseshoe," he said. "There are a lot of people who do go out on special occasions and are looking for a special experience door-to-door, and we're excited to provide that."