The year 2020 will go down in history as an inflection point for humankind. The challenges we face today, from the global climate crisis that is ravaging our planet, to the global pandemic that is ravaging our lives, to the global rage at injustice that is ravaging our communities, remind us at once that we are human, and humans make choices.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated economies around the world, caused unimaginable heartbreak, loss and stress, and wreaked havoc on businesses large and small, including here at Lyft. Yet amidst these extraordinary challenges, one thing has become very clear: COVID-19 has presented us with a unique challenge to rebuild our businesses and communities in ways that are better, cleaner and more sustainable for the future.
At Lyft, we made a choice. Rather than hunker down and ride out COVID-19, we chose to stand up and accelerate our efforts to address the climate crisis. With transportation recently overtaking electricity as the single largest source of planet-disrupting greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the US and the second-largest source in Canada, we believe now is the time for Lyft to lead a radical shift in strategy.
That’s why, Lyft – in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund – is announcing its commitment to reach 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. By working with drivers to transition to electric vehicles, we have the potential to avoid tens of millions of metric tons of GHG emissions to the atmosphere and to reduce gasoline consumption by more than a billion gallons over the next decade.
“Now more than ever, we need to work together to create cleaner, healthier, and more equitable communities,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and president, Lyft. “Success breeds success, and if we do this right, it creates a path for others. If other rideshare and delivery companies, automakers and rental car companies make this shift, it can be the catalyst for transforming transportation as a whole.”
“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,” said Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund. “Lyft’s commitment accelerates momentum toward this future and sets the standard for other tech and transportation leaders to follow suit.”
The path to zero emissions
The shift to 100% electric vehicles (EVs) for Lyft will mean transitioning all vehicles used on the Lyft platform over the next ten years to all-electric or other zero-emission technologies. This includes cars in the Express Drive rental car partner program for rideshare drivers, our consumer rental car program for riders, our autonomous vehicle program, and drivers’ personal cars used on the Lyft platform.
Switching to electric vehicles is not just good for the planet; it’s good for people – riders, drivers, and the communities they serve. By helping to solve one of the biggest pieces of the climate challenge, we believe we can provide direct economic benefits to rideshare drivers and environmental benefits to communities most heavily impacted by smog and asthma.
We believe the potential benefits to drivers are very significant. Although the upfront cost of EVs today is higher than gas-powered cars, EVs have lower fuel and maintenance costs that mean lower costs for drivers over the life of the vehicle. We see this already with drivers renting cars through Express Drive, who currently save an average of $50-70 per week on fuel costs alone. And we expect these savings to increase over time as the cost of EV batteries continues to come down. EV battery costs have already decreased nearly 90% since 2010, and we expect that by mid-decade, EVs will be more economical for rideshare drivers than gasoline cars.
But at the end of the day, meeting our commitment is on us, not on drivers. By working with policymakers and partners, and harnessing the power of the driver community, we can drive down the cost of EVs, expand EV incentives and infrastructure, and help drivers switch to electric over time in a way that is cost-effective, sustainable and profitable.
We are proud to be leaders in the fight against climate change. In 2018, we made all rides on the Lyft platform carbon-neutral through our carbon offsets program. This was a first step we could take to immediately mitigate GHG emissions on the platform. But we’ve reached a scale that requires us to do more. Our scale gives us the power to drive change by reducing GHG emissions from cars used on our platform. So we’re ending our carbon offsets program to allow us to focus our efforts on direct decarbonization through the switch to EVs. While this means net emissions from cars used on the Lyft platform may increase in the short term, shifting to 100% EVs will lead to dramatically lower emissions over the long term.
Reaching 100% won’t be easy, but we’ve already begun the work needed to get there. Last year we launched hundreds of EVs onto the Lyft platform through Express Drive in Seattle, Atlanta, and Denver. In Colorado, for example, we built on the incredible leadership of Governor Polis and policymakers to allow our Express Drive rental partners’ vehicles to be eligible for state tax incentives. This win-win enabled the introduction of hundreds of new EVs in the greater Denver area – one of the largest EV deployments in the nation to date.
But to reach our commitment by the end of 2030, we will need to harness the power of Lyft and its partners to drive radical change. It will require the collective action of industry, government, and nonprofit organizations to overcome the two significant barriers currently preventing wide-scale electrification: up-front cost of the vehicle and access to reliable, affordable charging. So we’ll be working with the experts at Environmental Defense Fund and other environmental leaders to accelerate progress towards our commitment. This will include advancing a policy roadmap and catalyzing the development of tools to help drivers electrify, as described in more detail in our Path to Zero Emissions plan. And we’re also joining The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative to help kick-start our work. As the newest member of EV100 and the largest in terms of vehicle-related commitments, we’ll be collaborating with a group of forward-looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and making electric transport the new normal by 2030. Our commitment is a long-term effort and Lyft will provide periodic updates with key project milestones.
By taking these steps, we are not only improving people’s lives with the world’s best transportation, but we’re also helping to make our communities cleaner, healthier, and more equitable for everyone.