Lyft Launches 'Green Mode,' Allows Users to Request Electric Cars

CC BY 2.0. Kārlis Dambrāns

The rollout starts in Seattle, then more broadly.

Not so long ago, ride-hailing giant Lyft made the commitment to go 100% carbon neutral—offsetting the emissions created from all rides taken through its app. This felt like an important first step, and a great way to begin taking responsibility for the company's carbon footprint.

Offsets, however, are only ever the first step. Eventually, we have to figure out how to slash carbon emissions at source.

That's why it's exciting to hear that Lyft is planning to expand availability of electric and hybrid vehicles available through the app. Part of that effort starts with the launch of "Green Mode," which will allow users to explicitly request an electric or hybrid vehicle when they request a ride. This particular feature went live in Seattle on Wednesday and will soon roll out to other cities across the nation.

Green Mode screenshot

© Lyft

Of course, requesting an electric vehicle only works if there are electric vehicles available in your area. And here, too, Lyft has plans. Through the company's ExpressDrive program—a rental service that allows drivers without their own vehicle to get access to one and and earn money—Lyft is going to be making electric vehicles available as an option. Rental fees will apparently include unlimited charging during the initial rollout and, even after that offer phases out, Lyft is expecting lower running costs to result in hundreds of dollars a month in savings for many drivers.

The EV rollout through ExpressDrive is already underway in Seattle and Atlanta, but we can expect more cities to come online soon too. And while many of us continue to worry about the impact of ride hailing on transit, Lyft is apparently working on solutions on that front too.

All in all, if I was going to go about greening up a ride hailing service like Lyft, this is pretty much how I'd plan on doing it. Let's hope others take note.