By Nimra Noor, International Business Writer
One month after Lyft announced a billion dollar investment round led by Google parent company Alphabet, the US-based ride-hailing company released on Monday, November 13, its plan to launch the service in Toronto, Canada, marking its first international expansion. As Lyft grows beyond its home market in the United States, residents in the greater Toronto area will be able to book rides from five of its service options starting in December 2017.
In an attempt to attract drivers, Lyft will offer a 25 percent bonus to the first 3,000 who complete 200 rides per week during the company’s first three months of operation in the Mega City of Canada. Additionally, Lyft put out an open call for drivers to form its fleet in the city, where it will inaugurate a Driver Hub office for outreach and recruiting events.
Founded in 2012, Lyft gained recognition using fuzzy, pink moustaches that decorated drivers’ cars. With higher ambitions, the ride-hailing company progressed determinedly to capitalize throughout the year, as opposed to its industry rival, Uber, which remained entangled in a series of controversies. The company has experienced considerable growth in the US, boosting its availability from 54 percent of the population a few years ago to 95 percent recently, Lyft’s entry into the international market comes as no surprise. Lyft started the year hoping to expand into 100 new cities, and to include an additional 32 states to its coverage area. The September report went further to claim Toronto to be Lyft’s first international target, with Australia and New Zealand as potential next steps.
“We have had our sights set on international expansion for months, and the Canadian market is an obvious fit for Lyft’s culture, values and the service that we provide,” Lyft Chief Executive Officer, Logan Green, said in a statement to CNN Tech. “We’ve had incredible interest from both drivers and passengers in Toronto.”
Expanding to Canada could provide some valuable advantages to Lyft’s business efforts. One of the benefits the company could gain from its presence in Toronto is in context to its self-driving car program. According to Business Insider, the capital city of Ontario has become a center for research and development on artificial intelligence (AI) in automotive settings over the past two years, which could possibly help Lyft further it self-driving efforts. Besides, Canadian markets have still a lot of room to grow: with Uber, the only major ride-hailing company currently operating in Canada, not available to people in some of the country’s largest cities, such as Quebec and Vancouver, Lyft has a bright chance to become one of the firm’s five largest markets. However, as dearth of rivals in Canada has led to Uber dominating the country’s ride-hailing market, Lyft will not be entirely free from challenges upon its entry into the international market.
The company still has a long way to go to catch up to its industrial rival, Uber, both in terms of its scale of operations and valuation. Nonetheless, expanding geographically into Canada in time to “help ring in the holidays,” and eventually to other countries, seems a wise way to prove itself as a sustainable business.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 21st print edition.
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