Lyft likes to set lofty goals for itself. Last year, one of the ride-hail company’s founders went on record predicting that “a majority” of Lyft’s trips will be in self-driving cars by 2021. Now Lyft says it wants to be less of a pollutant, too. The company is setting a goal for itself that all of the electric, autonomous vehicles on its platform will be powered by “100% renewable energy.”
Recently, Lyft announced that it was partnering with self-driving startup NuTonomy to deploy a fleet of autonomous, electric vehicles in Boston later this year for public trials. Lyft will purchase renewable energy certificates to offset any emissions from the fueling of its electric autonomous vehicles, a company spokesperson said. Lyft is also predicting that by 2025, Lyft will provide 1 billion rides per year using electric, autonomous vehicles.
But not all of Lyft’s self-driving vehicles will be electric. The spokesperson said that it was “possible we may test a variety of prototype vehicle types in the future during the developmental phases of this technology.” Still, as battery-powered technology matures, the company expects “the vast majority of the vehicles on our platform will be electric,” he added.
“We believe that ridesharing, combined with autonomous vehicles, will be the driving force that brings electric vehicles from a tiny portion (~0.1%) of all cars on the road today to a significant majority within 20 years,” the company’s co-founders, Logan Green and John Zimmer, write in a blog post, citing research from experts and think tanks to back them up.
They go on to theorize:
The heart of our transportation problem is that personally-owned vehicles are underutilized. The average car is used only 4% of the time and for electric vehicles, it takes 10 years or more to recover the cost premium through fuel savings. In comparison, Lyft vehicles can be used much more efficiently — an electric, autonomous Lyft vehicle will be utilized over 50% of the time and payback its costs in just a few years through operational savings.
Lyft’s climate goals sprang up as a result of President Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord. The company joined a coalition of businesses and local governments in pledging to continue to abide by the agreement. And Lyft recently announced that environmentalist Paul Hawken, executive director of Project Drawdown, will join Lyft as its climate advisor.