Global rideshare giants Lyft and Uber have both announced plans this week to accelerate their electric mobility efforts, with Uber now allowing users in central London to request an all-electric vehicle instead of a regular ICE vehicle, and Lyft celebrating a deal with American autonomous vehicle company Motional to begin building a fleet of driverless Hyundai IONIQ 5 EVs, which could hit select US cities as early as 2023.
Boston-based Motional announced in December a partnership with Lyft to launch a robotaxi service across major US cities beginning in 2023. The announcement builds on the existing three-year partnership between the two companies which has already resulted in the world’s longest-standing commercial robotaxi service in Las Vegas.
The December agreement set out plans to build a scalable robotaxi service using Motional’s next-generation robotaxis built on a Hyundai vehicle platform, and then fully integrated into the Lyft network.
“This agreement is a testament to our global leadership in driverless technology,” said Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO, Motional, speaking in December.
“We’re at the frontier of transportation innovation, moving robotaxis from research to road. Our aim is to not only build safe, reliable, and accessible driverless vehicles, but to deliver them at significant scale. We’re partnering with Lyft to do exactly that.”
Announced on Tuesday, Motional and Lyft revealed that the Hyundai vehicle platform chosen for their robotaxi fleet would be the Hyundai IONIQ 5.
The IONIQ 5 will serve only as the platform, with Motional equipping the vehicle with Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities – including LiDAR, radar, and cameras providing a full 360-degrees awareness around the vehicle, and able to see up to 300 metres away.
Hyundai IONIQ 5 EVs are already being integrated with Motional’s driverless system, and they will soon begin being put through months of rigorous testing.
Choosing the Hyundai IONIQ 5 provides Motional and Lyft a strong starting point from which to launch their robotaxi service. The all-electric SUV is the first model in Hyundai’s IONIQ family, boasting a 72.6kWh battery providing 480-kilometres of electric rangeand max power of 225kW.
Changing gears and heading across the Pond, one of Lyft’s big rivals, Uber, has announced that users in central London can now request an all-electric vehicle as their ride, providing its customers the option to choose to go green, allowing them to “play their part in cleaning up urban transport.”
The new service, Uber Green, will launch in London’s Zone 1 – which includes the suburb of Westminster and several smaller neighbourhoods. While all trips must originate in Zone 1, destinations will reportedly be unrestricted. Uber will offer a 15% reduction on its usual service fees to incentivise drivers.
In January 2019, Uber added an additional fee of 15p for every mile travelled in London as part of its Clean Air Plan, which has so far raised £125 million ($AU225 million) to help its drivers switch to greener cars. As a result, Uber has increased the number of EVs in its London fleet from 100 to 1,600 – a small percentage of the total 45,000, but nevertheless an important first step.
“With cities beginning to open up once again, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive a green recovery by ensuring that every car on the Uber app in London is fully electric,” said Uber’s EU general manager Jamie Heywood in a statement.
“We continue to partner with drivers to help them make the switch to electric and today we are excited to start offering riders the option to select an electric vehicle at no extra cost, allowing everyone using Uber to play their part in cleaning up urban transport.”
The London EV move is part of Uber’s larger effort to become a fully zero-emission platform by 2040, with an interim goal of ensuring 100% of all rides in the US, Canada, and Europe take place in EVs by 2030.
“The world is at a critical juncture, and we all have a role to play,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive officer, speaking in September of last year. “Uber is aiming high. We’ll seek to build the most efficient, decarbonized, and multimodal platform in the world for on-demand mobility.
“While we’re not the first to set ambitious goals in transitioning to EVs, we intend to be the first to make it happen. Competing on sustainability is a win for the world, and today we challenge other mobility platforms to transparency, accountability, and more action.”