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Lyft Aims for 1 Billion Driverless Rides on Electric Cars by 2025

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【Summary】At the moment, Lyft is already at maximum capacity, averaging 160 million rides per year. To meet its goal, the business must scale current operations quickly and efficiently.

Michael Cheng    Jun 19, 2017 6:01 AM PT
Lyft Aims for 1 Billion Driverless Rides on Electric Cars by 2025

Lyft is taking advantage of recent events that are shaping the rollout of electric vehicles and ridesharing services to accelerate its business goals. In response to Uber's extremely tough year, as it deals with several internal scandals and a hefty legal battle with Google's Waymo, the company is aiming to rapidly expand its ridesharing services by offering one billion rides per year by 2025.

Furthermore, in the arena of climate change, Lyft plans to power its massive fleet that will facilitate all those rides using EVs. This is in response to President Donald Trump's sudden withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement, according to a recent company blog post.

"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," said Lyft CEO and co-founder Logan Green.

Here's a closer look at Lyft's strategic moves to dethrone Uber from its top spot in the competitive ridesharing industry, while making a bold statement about renewable energy.

Autonomous Ridesharing Services

Lyft's plans to provide rides on electric cars is very ambitious. At all stages of the program, the business will offer its services on EVs. With help from NuTonomy, the vessels will also be autonomous. The first city to participate in the program is Boston, Massachusetts, which will start later this year using a fleet of customized Renault Zoe vehicles.

In many ways, Lyft is overtaking Uber in the race to develop and incorporate self-driving technology in ridesharing services. Uber has been experimenting with autonomous cars in major cities across the US. However, the company's driverless platform is far from ready, based on a recent eye-opening disengagement report.

On the other hand, Lyft is taking a different approach by partnering with NuTonomy, a startup that has been trialing autonomous taxi programs in Singapore for almost a year. With a road-ready self-driving platform that is at the second stage of testing in Boston, this could be a breakout year for Lyft – once it is able to bring both technologies together (driverless and ridesharing).

Fueling Sustainable Energy Goals

By leveraging EVs that are powered by renewable energy in its ridesharing services, Lyft could curtail harmful emissions in the US by roughly five million tons annually within the next eight years. Compared to private cars, which are only utilized around four percent of the time for ridesharing, the startup's EV fleet will be used more than 50 percent of the time.

"We're taking into account the enormous growth in ride-sharing activity we expect autonomy to bring to platform," said Emily Castor, Lyft's director of policy. "We also believe electric vehicles, automated or not, will increasingly become the power train of choice, as we see battery prices coming down."

Perhaps the most daunting goal to overcome is hitting the one billion rides milestone per year by 2025. At the moment, Lyft is already at maximum capacity, averaging 160 million rides per year. To meet its goal, the business must scale current operations quickly and efficiently.

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