The past couple weeks have been an incredibly exciting time for self-driving vehicle debuts. First, Uber showed off its brand-new, modified Ford Fusion at a big two-day media event in Pennsylvania, and followed the event by putting the cars into service for locals. Second, Ford held a press event for journalists to test “drive” their new autonomous vehicles at their company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Third, Swedish automotive company Volvo officially announced their very first production-model driverless SUV, a regular-looking XC90. Lyft, another ride-hailing application, wants to get in on the game.
Lyft is jumping into the game of driverless vehicles. In an essay written by Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer, the company outlined their ambitions with autonomous vehicles and how they plan to utilize them within their service in the future.
Lyft president hoping for an autonomous future on the road
Zimmer states that self-driving cars “will account for the majority of Lyft rides within five years” and he also believes that “by 2025, private car ownership will all but end in major US cities. With these two ideas, Zimmer believes that transportation will be transformed into “the ultimate subscription service.”
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This service will be more flexible than owning a car, giving you access to all the transportation you need. Don’t drive very often? Use a pay-as-you-go plan for a few cents every mile you ride. Take a road trip every weekend? Buy the unlimited mileage plan. Going out every Saturday? Get the premium package with upgraded vehicles. The point is, you won’t be stuck with one can and limited options. Through a fleet of autonomous cars, you’ll have better transportation choices than ever before with a plan that works for you.
Zimmer believes that car ownership has changed cities for the worse, citing traffic and accident issues, as well as inefficient transportation methods. The exec believes that “…car ownership started a vicious cycle: as more cars filled the streets, more roads had to be built to accommodate them. This second transportation revolution caused communities to spread farther and farther apart, which made having constant access to a car increasingly necessary — resulting in even more cars that needed even more space. In the process, our cities were dramatically reshaped to favor cars over communities.”
Zimmer then asks us to “…imagine for a minute, what our world could look like if we found a way to take most of these cars off the road. It would be a world with less traffic and less pollution. A world where we need less parking — where streets can be narrowed and sidewalks widened. It’s a world where we can construct new housing and small businesses on parking lots across the country — or turn them into green spaces and parks. That’s a world built around people, not cars.”
Lyft still facing stiff competition despite progressive predictions
Earlier this year, Lyft received a large investment from General Motors to the tune of $500 million, which the company plans to use to integrate self-driving technologies into its ride-sharing service. Currently the company is testing these vehicles in cities like San Francisco and Phoenix.
Whether Lyft is keeping up with its competition is entirely another matter, however. Last month, GM was one of many companies that were reportedly interested in acquiring the ride-hailing service. The company has denied that it is for sale.
While Lyft might be struggling to maintain its share of the market against the likes of Uber, for example, these predictions from the company’s president are certainly exciting. If Zimmer is correct, we may never need to focus on the road again.