So much has changed this year. The way we greet our friends, how we work, how we spend our Friday nights — and a lot of talk has centered around the “new normal”. Throughout this time, rideshare apps as a whole have taken a major dip, mostly because people are going out less. When they do go out, they’re choosing not to get in the car with strangers who may or may not have been exposed to the virus. But a recent strategy that lays out a nationwide fleet of Lyft EVs by the year 2030 proves that Lyft is not phased in the slightest.

The rideshare plan for Lyft EVs — in a nutshell

On June 17, 2020, Lyft announced their plan to replace all gas cars on the road with EVs by the year 2030. In the next decade, they expect to:

  • Work closely with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), who helped them develop the initial plan and present a clear goal to the public
  • Work closely with drivers to transition from gas cars to electric vehicles, ultimately aiming for zero emissions
  • Avoid tens of millions of metric tons of GHG emissions, and cut gas consumption by more than a billion gallons

Choosing to walk the walk

Rideshare app executives have long touted the carpooling concept as environmentally friendly, but evidence suggests that modern measures like Lyft and Uber aren’t actually any more sustainable than the personal vehicle trend. 

In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists discovered that these types of rides produce 47% more carbon emissions than simply driving alone. To add to it, they intercept alternatives like public transit, walking and bicycling for folks who don’t have a car. Because of this, they actually increase per-trip emissions by 69%. That’s not to mention an increase in traffic congestion within heavily populated urban environments.

With Lyft EVs on the horizon, the rideshare industry may begin to tackle a portion of their problems.

The news of Lyft EVs comes during a global pandemic and national uprising

At first glance, it seems quirky that Lyft decided to break the news of their sustainability goal during the wildest time of a generation. Multifaceted crises make it difficult to see the forest through the trees.

But upon closer inspection, the move makes sense. There’s a general distrust of large corporations, whether for reasons of safety or equitability. Lyft’s response and the EDF’s involvement is a clear effort to divulge transparency and promote real, tangible change.

“As we move to repair the COVID-battered global economy, we have a chance to rebuild better and create a cleaner, more prosperous and more equitable future. Getting there will require investing in clean energy to create jobs and reduce pollution, and radically shifting how we move people and products.” – Fred Krupp, President of the EDF

The most important question: Is the burden to buy on the drivers?

Lyft drivers are gig workers, AKA independent contractors. They use their own vehicles and keep the pre-tax earnings for themselves (once Lyft takes their cut, of course). So the question remains: does Lyft expect their drivers to bear the burden of purchasing Lyft EVs?

According to Lyft Vice President Cal Lankton, the company is working tirelessly to create the perfect market conditions for EV owners (both current and prospective). This means making it cheaper to buy an electric car in the first place, as well as actively advocating for incentives at the state and federal levels. They plan to have a hand in charging infrastructure across the nation, too. Who would have thought that Lyft would be the one to put charging stations on the map?

With all that in mind…yes, the onus is on the drivers to purchase those Lyft EVs. But Lyft claims it’s pulling its weight systemically, even though full-time Lyft drivers make an average of $30,000 a year.

In regards to whether or not they’ll be able to reach their goal by 2030, I’m not sure. Neither are most people, considering the lofty stature of the rideshare app’s prediction. But with the slew of brand-new EV chargers I saw at a local gas station last weekend, the change may indeed happen swiftly.

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    9 Comments

    1. Did not see that coming. especially right now. Lyft must have been planning to make a move like this for some time now. It goes to show you that preparation can make all the difference.

    2. I was reading through the article waiting to have the one question answered of how they would implement this. But I do not feel like I truly got an answer for that. I do agree rideshares are not necessarily environmentally conscious. I once drove for uber and you are spending time driving around to catch rides, simply wasting gas. So the concept is interesting, however, I am not sure of how they will go about it.

      1. I agree! They leave a lot of the responsibility on the drivers, who obviously aren’t earning much (especially these days). I think the systemic changes are a bit of a wash, because Lyft can only have so much say (especially when we’re experiencing environmental protection rollbacks at a rapid rate). Maybe they’re putting too much faith in the system, maybe it’s performative. We shall wait and see.

    3. Well what do you know, low and behold, a company that appears to be all about helping the environment down to the littlest detail like not giving you plastic forks and knives when you order food is producing crazy carbon emissions.

      Here is a quote from uber
      https://www.uber.com/us/en/community/supporting-cities/sustainability/
      “Saving resources worldwide
      In 2017 alone, drivers served 35 million riders in UberPool and Express Pool trips. If these riders had instead driven by themselves, cities might have seen an additional 314 million vehicle miles and 82,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

      …. gotta love that word “might”

    4. lyft and uber just stopped services in california today.. because the state wants/forcing them to consider them employees and not sub contracted drivers… ” Uber and Lyft have said they will suspend ride services in their home state, most likely until after voters in November determine the fate of a proposition they are sponsoring.” ………..looks like yer walking cali.

      1. I feel for the contract workers of Cali. AB5 is wild.

      2. It’s really hard trying to call a taxi and tell them where you are after being spoiled by Uber and Lyft! The struggle is real 🙂

    5. Lyft and Uber need to be held to the same standards as others, so every state should suspend their services until the people driving for them are considered employees.

    6. Unless Lyft will contribute in a big way to the drivers getting EV’s I think it will be a battle.

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