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Lyft is testing paid memberships like Uber that offer discounted Line rides

Signage inside Lyft's headquarters in San Francisco, Calif. on October 18, 2013.

Lyft announced on Monday that it’s testing out a membership plan for its Line carpooling service that promises riders cheaper prices per ride. Available in Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., riders can purchase either a $20 or $29 pass, each with different options — the former reduces all your Line rides to $2 each, while the latter covers the entire ride.

Passes must be purchased before October 31 and can only be used through November. There’s no additional steps for riders as the selected plan will automatically kick in. However, not everyone can purchase a pass as it’s available in limited quantity.

While this is certainly good for riders and for Lyft, it’s not the only company that’s doing these type of membership options that target frequent users. Its main competitor Uber has since launched its own offering called Uber Plus that is also being tested in a handful of U.S. cities, including San Francisco. But unlike Lyft’s program, Uber Plus is applicable with both UberX rides with a flat-rate of $7 and UberPool costing $2 each.

Uber Plus previously set restrictions on the number of rides permitted and that limit was determined by which tiered plan riders choose. For $20 a month, they’ll receive 20 fixed-cost trips, while $30 a month gives 40 trips. This month, the company shifted its plan to provide unlimited rides, but at a steeper price, starting in Manhattan. For $100, riders got unlimited rides for the first two weeks, but for $200 it covered the entire month. Based on the traction of Uber Plus, it’s feasible that this will expand to other cities in the future.

Lyft’s program appears to offer unlimited rides so it might be a better option, as long as you don’t mind carpooling with a stranger.

Ride-hailing services are looking to make themselves more convenient to riders, and a way to build loyalty appears to be with membership programs. With them, companies can establish better rapport with riders while providing multiple ways to get around without resorting to them breaking the bank. Instead, they can recognize that taking a Lyft or an Uber is a better way form of transit without having to weep later on after finding out how expensive their ride was.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick