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.