In today’s transportation landscape, opening the Lyft app on your phone is a sign of intent. It means that wherever you’re going, you’ve decided you won’t be biking or walking or taking the bus. Maybe you’ll share the ride with a stranger, but you’re definitely making the trip in a car. Lyft cofounder and president John Zimmer is trying to rejigger that timeline. He wants the tap of the pink icon to come at the moment you’ve decided where you’re going—and before you know how you’ll get there. Because whatever mode of transportation is right for you and your trip, he wants Lyft to be your navigator. That’s why, starting next week, some Lyft users in Santa Monica will see a new option. “It’ll say ‘Nearby Transit,’” says Zimmer. So if you’re at the pier and looking to get across town, the app will show you nearby drivers and prices, as usual, But in the bottom of the screen, it will also offer information about public transit.
The experience of renting a Porsche through the peer-to-peer car sharing platform Turo is about to get an upgrade. On Tuesday, Porsche and Turo announced a new pilot program, one of a number being tried by the German OEM as it—along with the rest of the auto industry—wraps its head around the ever-changing mobility landscape. Porsche is popular on Turo; the marque is the fourth most commonly searched on the platform. And Porsche is popular at Turo; CEO Andre Haddad describes himself as a lifelong enthusiast. The pilot, appropriately called Porsche Hosts, launches in Los Angeles and San Francisco early in October. It’s open to Porsche-owning hosts in either city, provided they meet certain criteria—their feedback rating, a long tenure on the platform, and so on.
Migo, an app that connects users with multiple types of transportation services, has raised $9 million in Series A funding, according to a company press release. Among the new investors are rental giant Enterprise and Hyundai, which is investing through its CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences) venture-capital arm. Launched in September 2017, Migo acts as a clearing house for transportation services. Users can access ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, Daimler’s Car2Go car-sharing service, Lime bicycle and e-scooter rentals, as well as taxi cabs and public transportation, without switching apps. The company claims to have more than 80,000 users.
Humans are creatures of habit, and that’s certainly true when it comes to commuting. But University of Maryland researchers behind a new app are betting that with the right incentives, commuters might switch to “smarter” routes—ones that are better for the environment, for the user, and for all the other people trying to move around. The app, called Incentrip, is part of a $4.5 million research project funded by the Department of Energy to predict traffic and ease congestion. Currently being piloted in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, it essentially turns the commuting experience into a game. When users put their destination into the app, they’re shown a handful of options—car, bus, subway, biking, and ride-sharing—with information about the length, time, and amount of fuel consumed for each mode. The app awards points based on how a user chooses to get around, giving more points for greener and more efficient methods. For drivers who aren’t ready to pivot to public transit just yet, the app awards a few points for choosing a more “eco-friendly” driving route.
Self-driving vehicles are useful for hauling both people and cargo, but you can usually only prioritize one of those tasks unless you can afford to buy separate vehicles. Mercedes-Benz might have a solution to the problem: build a machine that can change its role on demand. Its Vision Urbanetic concept van uses a modular body system to switch between people-carrying and cargo duties, with an electric-powered platform underneath. If you need a ridesharing service or shuttle bus, a passenger module can take up to 12 people while providing a dramatic view of the road. If you need to ferry goods across town, however, the cargo module fits as many as 10 European-sized pallets inside a boxy, no-nonsense frame. A company or public agency could serve two sets of customers without having to buy separate fleets for each. And you wouldn’t need to put all the modules in the same place — the base vehicle can travel without any module attached.
Sono Motors is a Bavarian startup electric car company that actually has a very good chance of making it to production as they are now literally months/weeks away from production of their sole solar BEV with the 7,200 orders they already have. Yes, that’s right, a BEV that has solar panels all over and around the car that provides 30 km or 18 miles of driving a day. A simple sole car, no other models will be offered, simple pricing, battery optional, built to last, and made for you to do the DIY repairs. At first glance of the Sono Sion (not Scion) you would think it’s something of a Prius C that has been mutated into a rolling brocade of solar roof panels. In actuality, Sion is a battery electric vehicle in which the battery is optional, because depending on how you use the car, you may not need the $4,625 USD battery option at all. It’s the EV that recharges itself:
As ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Grab continue to grow in popularity around the world, they may becoming victims of their own success. That’s because a new study by Bruce Schaller, a former New York deputy commissioner of transportation, found that these services have lured more and more people away from public transportation and ballooned the number of miles being driven in traffic.
Plenty of companies are working on new electric car technology and self-driving systems, but Volvo is developing a prototype concept vehicle that combines both into something it sees as a replacement for airline travel. Why fly, the company argues, when you can drive – well, not drive, but ride. Well, not just ride, but sleep in a bed or have a meeting with colleagues while you’re riding. Or just kick back, have a drink and watch a movie. That’s Volvo’s pitch for its 360C. Volvo sees that day coming in the “not too distant future.” It notes that traditional car ownership is gradually giving way to ride-sharing and subscription models, and it predicts a continuing shift to “alternative mobility solutions.”
As college students head back to school, electric scooter companies want to help them get to class. Colleges and universities are among the latest points of interest for e-scooter operators, which have taken major cities across the country by storm after deploying the dockless scooters—sometimes unannounced. They’ve developed a reputation for littering streets, creating safety hazards, and even threatening to call the police on riders who don’t pay. San Francisco and Nashville both issued cease-and-desist letters until officials and scooter operators agreed on how the companies can operate. The University of Minnesota modeled its agreement with Bird and Lime after the city of Minneapolis’ license with scooter companies. As part of an ongoing four-month pilot program underway in Minneapolis, Bird and Lime will pay the city $20 per scooter, place no more than 200 scooters in the first two months, and will remove the devices by winter, according to the Star Tribune.
Uber is taking action against difficult riders in Australia and New Zealand, according to a new report. The car-sharing service told the BBC recently that it will begin banning riders who have ratings that are four-out-of-five-stars or lower. The bans will last six months. The program is modeled after the same move the company made in Brazil earlier this year. According to the report, Uber doesn’t anticipate many of its riders being banned. It told the BBC that more than 90% of its riders have a rating of 4.5 or higher. And even before it starts banning riders, Uber will issue them warnings. If after those warnings, riders continue their poor behavior, they’ll be banned. Uber’s move is an attempt by the company to improve the driver-rider relationship on its service.