Why Lyft’s Car Avatars Now Change Color

Lyft is differentiating itself from other ride-sharing apps by updating its car avatars. Starting this week, riders who request a Lyft will see their driver’s car shown inside the app in one of 16 colors that matches the actual car on the street.

“It’s not just that you’re getting into a yellow or green taxi,” says Lyft VP of product Tali Rapaport. “You’re getting into Tali’s blue Prius. We want the driving experience to be aspirational; we want it to be clear that every driver is providing a unique experience in their own car.”

Over the last year, Lyft has made efforts to brand itself as the personal and user-friendly ride-sharing app. In March, for instance, it added profiles for riders and drivers that allow them to share potential conversation topics like their hometown and favorite music. It has also added features like detailed ride history, a lost and found, and the ability to split payments.

Lyft also updated the design and precision of its virtual cars. The app now maps the direction cars are facing, and the car avatar changes depending on whether the user has requested a ride through Lyft; car-pooling feature Line (you can see people in the car avatar); or Lyft Plus (the car avatar is larger). The cars also have a new design aesthetic that ties them to the brand (each features a glowstache, for instance).

Lyft has revealed its personality through its cars before, changing them into zombies during a Halloween promotion and yogurt during a promotion with Chobani yogurt in New York. “We have tried to experiment with the cars being an expression of our brand,” Rapaport says. “Fun is a value for us.”