Lyft aims for 100% renewable energy & self-driving Bolt fleet

By Steve Hanley on Clean Technica June 16th, 2017. Originally published on Gas2.

General Motors makes the Chevy Bolt, a fully electric car. General Motors also has a half billion dollar investment in Lyft, the on-demand taxi service that competes head to head with Uber. In the future, the Chevy Bolt may be the backbone of Lyft’s fleet of autonomous driving cars, and those cars may be 100% powered by renewable energy.

Lyft Sees Mostly Electric Cars In Fleet

Once battery technology matures a bit more, “the vast majority of the vehicles on our platform will be electric,” says a Lyft spokesperson. When that happens, they will operate 100% on renewable energy, say co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer in a blog post. The pair lay out the case for self-driving electric cars in one succinct paragraph:

“The heart of our transportation problem is that personally-owned vehicles are underutilized. The average car is used only 4% of the time and for electric vehicles, it takes 10 years or more to recover the cost premium through fuel savings. In comparison, Lyft vehicles can be used much more efficiently — an electric, autonomous Lyft vehicle will be utilized over 50% of the time and payback its costs in just a few years through operational savings.”


“We Are Still In” Coalition

Following the decision by The Trump to distance America from the Paris climate accords, Lyft announced that it has joined with more than 900 other companies that are part of the “We Are Still In” coalition that continues to support the goals of that agreement. In total, the members of the group represent over $6 trillion in economic activity annually. Lyft has also hired Paul Hawken, executive director of Project Drawdown, to act as climate advisor to the company.

Self-Driving Cars By 2021

Lyft says it expects “the majority” of the trips taken using its service will be made in self-driving cars by 2021. That’s a very aggressive timeline, considering that is less than 4 years away and there are currently no self-driving cars on the road in America except in tightly controlled test fleets. That’s where the latest news from General Motors comes into play.

Autonomous Chevy Bolt Fleet

GM CEO Mary Barra announced this week that the company has just completed the manufacture of 130 autonomous Chevy Bolt electric cars. After coming off the assembly line, they were shipped to another part of the factory where self driving hardware developed by Cruise Automation was installed. GM bought Cruise Automation last year.

Barra told several hundred workers at the Orion assembly plant, “The autonomous vehicles you see here today are purpose-built, self-driving test vehicles. The level of integration in these vehicles is on par with any of our production vehicles, and that is a great advantage. In fact, no other company today has the unique and necessary combination of technology, engineering and manufacturing ability to build autonomous vehicles at scale.”

The self-driving Chevy Bolts will be used for autonomous driving testing. Barra declined to say whether GM plans to build more of the autonomous electric cars. What we do know is that if they become part of the Lyft fleet, they will be recharged using renewable energy as much as possible.

“We believe that ridesharing, combined with autonomous vehicles, will be the driving force that brings electric vehicles from a tiny portion of all cars on the road today to a significant majority within 20 years,” say Green and Zimmer.

Source: The Verge | Photo credit: Lyft

Also by Steve Hanley:  Tesla May Win “Monopoly”

Originally published on Gas2.

Financial investment company Berenberg has completed an analysis of Tesla and concluded its stock, currently priced at about $380 per share, could surge another 30% in the next 12 months. In fact, the analyst team, headed by Alexander Haissl, claims the company could soon have a near monopoly in the market for electric cars.

Why are Haissl and his confreres so bullish on Tesla? Primarily because, among all the world’s automakers, Tesla is the only one fully committed to pushing the electric car segment forward. All the others are pursuing a “low risk, low investment” strategy that will ultimately leave them ill prepared to compete against Tesla.

In a note to investors this week, Haissl and his team wrote, “With no clear pathway to high-volume EV production for these OEMs before the mid-2020s, Tesla will be given a near-monopolistic opportunity to gain market share and outcompete the incumbent automotive industry.”

Tesla plans to invest almost $33 billion in electric vehicle projects over the next 5 years. That figure dwarfs what Mercedes and Volkswagen plan to spend over the same period. In fact, it is 40% more than those two companies combined and nearly 10 times what Ford’s former CEO Mark Fields said his company would spend before he was fired.

The analysts were also impressed by Tesla’s partnership with Panasonic. “Tesla/Panasonic continue to exhibit a clear advantage on cell and pack technology compared to all peers, on chemistry, cooling and cost. Tesla’s small and actively tube-cooled cells, which are not currently replicated and are unlikely to be so by competitors, drives significantly better residual values and cost-of-ownership advantages.”

Traditional carmakers are taking a timid approach, but, unlike Tesla, they are constrained by the requirement that they make money for their shareholders, whose eyes are on the next dividend check, not what might happen in the next decade. Tesla investors are focused on the rewards they expect to come in 5 to 10 years. That is a critical difference for the upstart automaker from Silicon Valley.

Source: CNBC