Inside Lyft’s plan to electrify its Canadian fleet
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Jul 29, 2020
Stephanie Wallcraft

Lyft’s Sam Arons and Sophia Coté speak exclusively to Electric Autonomy about the ride-sharing company’s commitment to a zero-emission Canadian fleet by 2030 and their path to achieving it

Lyft’s Sam Arons and Sophia Cote speak exclusively to Electric Autonomy about the ride-sharing company’s commitment to a zero-emission Canadian fleet by 2030 and their path to achieving it

The ride-hailing platform Lyft made headlines last month when it announced its intention to transition 100 per cent of its service to zero-emission vehicles by the year 2030.

The shift, if realized, will mark a pivotal response to ride-hailing’s dirty secret — that as long as such services rely on gasoline-powered vehicles, they are an added burden in the fight to reduce GHG emissions from transportation.

In an exclusive video interview with Electric Autonomy Canada, Sam Arons, Lyft’s San Francisco-based director of sustainability, and Sophia Cote, Lyft’s public policy manager in Western Canada, discuss the ZEV plan’s benefits and obstacles, and what it means for Canada, where Lyft currently operates in B.C. and Ontario.

“When it comes to climate change, we absolutely want to be part of the solution,” says Arons. “We wanted to make a big and bold goal, put a stake in the ground and say Lyft is going to go first.”

Build momentum

To realize that goal, he says Lyft needs to work with its drivers, government, automakers and EV charging companies — to help drive down costs, fashion new incentives and build momentum to ultimately “bring along the rest of our partners and stakeholders in the transportation ecosystem.”

The benefits, he says, go beyond climate.

“It’s better for drivers because they will actually earn more money driving with an EV. It’s better for communities because there’s less local air pollution. It’s just a win, win, win all around.”

“We are sending a signal to the market… We’re doing this to find a scalable solution that others can follow”

Sam Arons, Director of Sustainability, Lyft

In Canada, Sophia Cote says that Lyft has engaged with all levels of government about its plan and that those discussions have thus far been positive.

“They’re encouraged by the fact that our goals not only align with the federal government’s goals but also the jurisdictions in which we operate,” Cote says.

Fleet incentives key

A critical need early on, both say, is to convince governments of the value in making ZEV incentive programs more accessible to fleet purchasers. Lyft buys vehicles that it rents to drivers, many of whom are high-mileage drivers. Converting those drivers to EVs represents “low-hanging fruit,” says Arons.

“Our vehicles in this high-mileage application are driving three to five times more miles per year than the people who [incentives are] currently available to,” he said. “For every dollar that the [government] is spending to put an electric vehicle on the road, it would get three to five times more environmental benefit.”

To hear more insights on Lyft’s plans in Canada to electrify its network of vehicles, watch the full interview.

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