Lyft pledges to use only electric vehicles by 2030
Times are changing in the rideshare world
Rideshare services have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, one of the industry’s biggest players, Lyft, has announced an unprecedented change to its business model. On Wednesday, the company pledged to transition to “100 percent” electric or zero-emission vehicles by 2030.
When Lyft says 100 percent, it means 100 percent. The new policy will apply to independent drivers who use their own cars to drive for Lyft. Thanks to the aggressive measures, the rideshare company estimates that it can eliminate “tens of millions of metric tons” of pollution from entering the atmosphere.
It’s no secret that consumers’ taste in vehicles has shifted dramatically in recent years. Electric cars continue to grow in popularity in countries around the world. Buying an electric car for yourself is one thing. Shifting an entire rideshare company over to clean vehicles is another.
John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, doesn’t see it as a choice, though. Rather, he views the move towards electric cars as an obligation. He said in a statement, “Now more than ever, we need to work together to create cleaner, healthier, and more equitable communities. Success breeds success, and if we do this right, it creates a path for others.”
Although ridesharing sounds like it would be better for the environment, emerging research suggests otherwise. Studies show that an average rideshare trip creates about 50 percent more pollution than making the same trip in a personal car. As such, shifting an entire fleet away from gas-guzzling cars towards cleaner electric ones is an insightful move.
Making the necessary changes won’t be easy.
To start, Lyft will focus on altering the parts of its system that are easier to control. This includes things like its Express Drive rental car service which lets people without a vehicle become Lyft drivers. The company says that it will make electric vehicles available at the “same or lower weekly rental price as comparable gasoline vehicles by 2023 in at least 10 of our largest markets.”
Lyft reportedly has “tens of thousands” such cars available in 30 U.S. cities. It claims that the drivers who use them have earned more than $1 billion since the program launched in 2016.
Meanwhile, convincing the millions of existing drivers to upgrade to an electric car will be an even tougher challenge. The company has a plan for making this possible. Lyft says that it will “organize demand-side interest in EVs (electric vehicles) and negotiate with auto manufacturers for group discounts for drivers using the Lyft platform.”
The plan could be disastrous. If, for instance, Uber doesn’t implement a similar policy, drivers may simply switch to the other platform rather than buying a new vehicle — even with a discount. That isn’t deterring Lyft from the undertaking, though.
Lyft already has an uphill battle ahead of it thanks to complications of the coronavirus. Now, it has yet another obstacle to overcome — one placed there by itself. As of now, Lyft has declined to comment on how much it plans to spend on the initiative. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how things play out in the days ahead.
Originally published at https://www.theburnin.com on June 17, 2020.