Lyft is making a move to Canada to take on Uber internationally
Lyft is making a major move to go north of the border and finally expand its ride-hailing network outside the United States.
The company announced in a blog post it has tabbed Toronto, Canada, as its first international territory. Lyft also put out an open call for drivers to make up its fleet in the city, where it will open a Driver Hub office for outreach and recruiting events.
There isn’t an exact date for Lyft cars to be out on Toronto’s streets, but the company said operations should begin around the holiday season, and first-time users will be treated to their first trip gratis.
Lyft’s Toronto entry is no surprise. The company’s U.S. operations have grown considerably throughout 2017, boosting its availability from 54 percent of the population to 95 percent this year alone.
As industry leader Uber has spent the year floundering through a seemingly endless series of controversies, Lyft moved aggressively to capitalize. Expansion outside of the US was only a matter of time — the move was even foreshadowed in a September report that claimed Toronto would be Lyft’s first international target, with Australia and New Zealand as potential next steps.
The announcement comes shortly after Lyft’s biggest round of fundraising yet, a billion dollar investment led by Google parent company Alphabet’s CapitalG growth equity fund. Lyft now has an $11 billion valuation, a slew of partnerships with major automakers and tech companies to develop self-driving technologies, and, according to a leaked investor document Bloomberg obtained, projected domestic growth of 61 percent to take over a third of the US ride-hailing market by the end of 2017.
Lyft waited patiently to become an international operation, and now, the time looks to be just right. The company still has a long way to go to catch up to Uber, both in terms of its scale of operations and valuation — but the next leg of that journey is in Toronto.
Representatives for Lyft didn’t immediately respond to a request for more details.