Lyft is relaunching a feature that will allow riders to request an electric or hybrid vehicle for their next pickup. The service, Lyft Green, will initially only be available to business travelers in select cities when it begins April 17.
Lyft originally launched Lyft Green in 2019 in Seattle, with plans to scale across other cities, but rolled it back in 2021. A spokesperson told TechCrunch the service was “initially a bit ahead of its time” and that Lyft didn’t see a lot of demand. Now riders have had more exposure to EVs and are more excited about them, so the expansion is Lyft’s first step toward broadly offering the option again in the market, the company said.
The relaunch comes a week after Uber expanded its Comfort Electric option, which allows riders to choose a luxury electric vehicle like a Tesla or Audi, to 14 new cities. Comfort Electric is currently available in 40 cities, and Uber also has a more budget-friendly version called Uber Green, where riders can request a hybrid or less flashy EV.
Lyft Green is in line with the ride-hailing company’s goal to reach 100% electric vehicles on its platform by 2030, a goal that is partly charged by California’s 2021 ruling that ride-hail trips must be done in EVs by that same year. Lyft will have to make some aggressive changes if it intends to meet that goal. While hybrids have grown in popularity among Lyft drivers, EVs have remained somewhat stagnant. In 2021, the share of vehicle miles driven in an EV was only 0.56%, according to Lyft’s 2022 ESG report.
The spokesperson said that Lyft Green wasn’t popular enough back in 2019 to be successful, but it’s possible that there simply weren’t enough EVs on the platform to make it a viable service. For comparison, 4.1% of Uber’s trip miles have been completed with electric vehicles in the U.S. and Canada.
Last December, Lyft introduced options to help drivers switch to EVs, including discounts on charging and expanded EV inventory for the company’s so-called Express Drive rental program. The company also offered California drivers an extra $150 per week if they give 50 rides in their personal EVs until the end of 2024.
A Lyft spokesperson said that Lyft Green rides cost $1 more than standard rides, and that dollar is split between the driver and Lyft.
To get drivers to make the switch to EVs, Uber has been offering drivers $1 per trip completed with an EV, capping out at $4,000, and works with rental companies to give its drivers discounts on EVs.
As Lyft works to get more drivers on its platform driving EVs, it will trial the Lyft Green program initially with business travelers, who will need to sign up for a Lyft business profile using their work email. This is the second of Lyft’s business-focused initiatives this year. In January, the company launched a new reporting tool to help businesses track their emissions using the platform.
Lyft Green is currently available in Portland and will expand into 14 markets, including San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City, Chicago, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Austin, Denver, Orange County, Sacramento and Phoenix. As the company improves the service, it expects to open the service beyond just business travelers.
Lyft recently announced a new CEO, David Risher, who will take over on April 17, the same day Lyft Green launches. Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer stepped down from their positions of CEO and president, respectively. Risher’s plan for Lyft is to focus on the core ride-hailing business in an attempt to gain back more market share from Uber.