Gas prices have been steadily climbing since 2016. In June, the average U.S. retail cost of a gallon of gasoline was $2.97, up more than 20 percent from the same time last year. We’re a few cents away from a national psychological milestone, $3 a gallon. Meanwhile, the price of a barrel of crude oil recently hit $72.94, up 62 percent in just one year. The Drudge Report, always with a finger on the pulse of America’s anxieties, blared a warning about the soaring gas prices in its lead headline last week.
Increasing gas prices could also be good for electric scooter-sharing companies like Lime and Bird. Right now, scooter companies are actively trying to convince local regulators that scooters can replace car travel. That story gets more powerful as the price of gasoline climbs.
But gasoline prices will have perhaps the biggest effect on Uber and Lyft, though how they’re impacted isn’t obvious. Car owning-customers might turn to them instead of shelling out for gas. And by dint of their business models, ride-hailing companies are relatively insulated since drivers pay their own way, fuel and all.
If fuel prices keep rising, car travel as a whole is at a disadvantage to more energy-efficient forms of transit like scooters, public transportation, and electric cars. Clearly, Uber and Lyft are aware of this fact. Uber purchased the electric bike company Jump Bikes, while Lyft just bought the bike-rental company Motivate. Both companies are exploring ways to encourage their drivers to buy electric cars while promising to integrate public transportation into their apps.
While much of the country stands to suffer from rising oil prices, Silicon Valley has positioned itself to cash in as it builds the city of tomorrow.