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Lyft offers new incentives for its drivers to shift to electric vehicles

The ride-hail company is offering bonuses and discounts to EV drivers in its network in order to reach its goal of 100 percent electric vehicles by the end of 2030.
By Alison F. Takemura

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A white car charging at a bank of EVgo electric vehicle chargers

Last month, Lyft announced it was joining a coalition of companies looking to help users of their platforms aggressively decarbonize, building on a 2020 commitment to reach 100 percent electric vehicles by the end of 2030.

Today, the ride-hailing company unveiled the tangible steps it’s taking to make good on that promise. It rolled out several sizable financial incentives to help its drivers switch to electric vehicles.

Electrifying our transportation network is a crucial step in helping reverse the negative impacts of climate change,” said Paul Augustine, Lyft’s director of sustainability, in a statement. We know many drivers on Lyft want to switch to EVs, which is why we’re focused on addressing the biggest barriers they face in transitioning: upfront costs and access to charging.”

The incentives aren’t available uniformly to all Lyft drivers, but they are nonetheless far-reaching. Here’s a summary.

Until the end of 2024, drivers in California who own EVs can earn an extra $150 for each week in which they complete 50 Lyft rides. The bonus caps out at $8,100 — still, that’s a fifth of the cost of a $40,000 new electric vehicle. (Read more about how startups are also bringing down the cost of EV ownership with cheaper financing.)

Lyft drivers across the country can get cheaper charging on the road. At EVgo fast-charging stations, they receive a percentage discount — up to 45 percent off for drivers that have Gold and Platinum rewards status on the platform. At non-EVgo public charging stations, Lyft drivers can use Lyft’s debit card (Lyft Direct) to get 1 percent to 7 percent cash back. Higher amounts go to higher-rewards-status drivers, as with the EVgo discounts.

And drivers can charge at home with some help from Lyft. The company is providing a discount of $140 off Level 2 chargers from partner Wallbox. As of this writing, the company’s Pulsar Plus 48A charger is $699, so Lyft is enabling savings of 20 percent. Customers can also get cheaper installations via prenegotiated rates with electrical installer Coil.

Not all drivers may want to buy an EV, though, given the expense. So Lyft also plans to include more EVs in its Express Drive program, which allows its drivers to rent vehicles. Lyft is working with its partners — car-rental company Hertz and car-leasing company Flexdrive — to add what it says will be thousands of new EVs from [manufacturers] Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Polestar and others” in 2023. Drivers renting through Express Drive also have access to the EVgo charging discounts.

This provides drivers with a low-cost, low-commitment alternative to purchasing their own EV,” according to the company’s statement.

Guiding drivers through government tax credits, EV benefits

For drivers who do want to buy instead of rent, the benefits from Lyft stack on top of incentives in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, which admittedly are a confusing mélange. Tax credits for purchasing EVs depend on factors including your income, the maximum manufacturer’s suggested retail price and whether the vehicle is used or new. Moreover, in 2024 and 2025, manufacturing and assembly requirements for qualifying EVs and their batteries will become more stringent.

Added to that are state and local incentives. Lyft has launched an educational webpage to help drivers find out which credits, rebates and more are available to them. Through the website, Lyft is also touting the benefits of driving EVs, such as:

  • EVs can save owners fuel and maintenance costs year after year. Combined with financial incentives, that can make EVs cheaper to own over their lifetimes.
  • New EVs get a median of 234 miles in driving range on a single charge. That covers the 90 percent of Lyft drivers who travel less than 230 miles per day. 
  • EVs can boost a driver’s bottom line. Though tipping depends on many factors, including neighborhood and the age of the car, according to Lyft’s nationwide data, which spans January through November of this year, EV drivers earn a gobsmacking 40 percent more in tips per ride. 

In an email to Canary Media, Lyft explained why it’s so important that ride-hail vehicles go electric: They travel three to five times as many miles as personal vehicles in a year, so electrifying a ride-hail vehicle is like electrifying three personal ones, according to a 2019 report by the UC Davis National Transportation Center.

With its myriad EV incentives, Lyft is steering toward an electrified, decarbonized future. Now, will its drivers take the wheel?

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Alison F. Takemura is staff writer at Canary Media. She reports on home electrification, building decarbonization strategies and the clean energy workforce.