“We’re going to be working with the Environmental Defense Fund, policy makers and auto makers to … make electric vehicles make sense,” Lyft President John Zimmer said in a Wednesday media briefing. “It’s all about making it work for the drivers.”
The shift to EVs in the Express Drive program, which provides rental vehicles to drivers who don’t wish to use their own cars, will take place over the next five years, Lyft said. The company has already launched EVs for Express Drive programs in Atlanta, Denver and Seattle. The goal is to only acquire EVs for the program by 2026, and for all Express Drive vehicles to be electric by 2028.
To encourage drivers to use EVs as a personal vehicle, Lyft said it’s working with lawmakers and auto industry officials to make EVs more accessible. Lyft officials said “conversations are underway” with unspecified automakers, and that the company sees opportunities to “tweak some [EV] models to make them ideal [for rideshare].” Lyft didn’t directly answer whether, come 2030, drivers of internal combustion vehicles will be prohibited from driving for Lyft. Zimmer instead stated that Lyft will push “extremely hard” on incentives for electric vehicles.
A Union of Concerned Scientists study published earlier this year estimated that services like Uber and Lyft actually generate about 69 percent more CO2 emissions than the transportation options they displace. Lyft challenged the study, telling Engadget earlier this year that it made "misleading claims about rideshare." However, Lyft officials now seem more ready to admit rideshare’s environmental impact -- it said in a Wednesday statement that ridesharing has increased greenhouse gas emissions.
The electric vehicle switch is Lyft’s latest step toward making the business more sustainable. In 2017 Lyft hired environmentalist Paul Hawken to act as the company’s environmental advisor. In 2018, the company promised to make all rides carbon neutral by spending millions on carbon offsets.