Raj Kapoor thinks autonomous vehicles will save the Earth. With some caveats. “The big idea is actually making sure that we have all four together: autonomous, electric, shared rides with shared ownership,” explains the chief strategy officer at Lyft Inc. “Climate change is probably one of the world’s biggest challenges,” because one person acting alone can’t really make a difference. “Policy alone can’t change it. Technology alone can’t change it. So I felt like I had to do something.”
Consumer-owned cars, Kapoor says, spend most of their time parked, whereas a shared vehicle could almost always be in use. Electric engines have 20 moving parts, vs. many hundreds in gas-powered ones, so they require less maintenance. Thanks to the diminished cost of upkeep, cheaper fuel, and lack of operators, driverless EV rides should be cheap enough that the average person could take one every day, providing a key link between public transit and your front door. […]
Reducing carbon emissions will hinge on designing cities with efficient transportation—a massive business opportunity. Kapoor considered starting an investment fund focused on urban development, but he ultimately came back to Lyft and its potential to influence urban behavior. He wanted to work there, he told founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, but only if he could focus on environmentally responsible expansion. They accepted.
Kapoor’s work is cut out for him as he guides the company’s transition from a gig-economy model to a mostly driverless EV fleet. Lyft has teamed up with Ford Motor Co., Waymo LLC, and a few self-driving startups to develop technology, but the company is far from profitable and will have to build infrastructure to support a fleet.
Nice PR for Lyft.