With electric vehicles (EVs) and zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) becoming more popular, ride-hailing companies are taking action to reduce the carbon footprint left behind by their network of drivers. Uber is moving forward with plans to offer more EV options for rides on top of the company’s greater goal to go fully electric by 2030.
This move is a monumental step for the ride-sharing giant. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi doubled down on the company’s stance when he spoke with CBS News in September 2022. Users can choose between Uber Green, Comfort Electric, and Uber Planet — the third option is more available in Mexico and Europe.
When Comfort Electric is selected, Riders can ride in Polestar, Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, and Tesla vehicles. This service expanded to 15 U.S. cities, bringing the total to 25 cities and states in North America. Uber Green differs slightly from Comfort Electric, offering hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles next to fully electric cars.
There are some challenges Uber has to address to make this full-electric transition. For one thing, the company will have to source EVs for drivers to use. Electric cars are not cheap assets, costing between $40,000 to $60,000, and that’s some of the more affordable prices. The company plans to help by spending $800 million to offset the cost for contractors.
In addition, the company has partnered with Hertz so drivers can rent Teslas. Some drivers are praising this transition to EVs. One driver said she sees a $200 increase in weekly earnings because she has rented a Tesla, with riders tipping better because of the clean vehicle.
The Uber Green and Comfort Electric are pricier than the standard UberX setting, but that could be remedied with driver opt-in.
“The more electric cars we have in a particular market, the more the waiting time comes down, and pricing can come down as well,” Khosrowshahi said. While there is a long way to go, he’s confident the company will be able to reach its 2030 target.
Incentives are being offered to drivers to speed up the electric transition. If they switch to an EV before 2030 and participate in the Comfort Electric service, they will earn an extra dollar per ride. Should a monetary incentive not be enough, there is a starker reality on the horizon. Drivers who don’t switch will not be allowed on the ride-sharing giant’s platform.
Uber wants to continue to help fully realize a lower carbon future with this EV transition in cities in the U.S., Canada, and various European countries. The change will require eventual buy-in from all aspects of the business to succeed. With a global presence as large as Uber’s, it will be interesting to see how drivers react to this news.
“We believe we can achieve this 2030 goal in any major city where we can work with local stakeholders to implement policies that ensure a fair transition to EVs for drivers,” Khosrowshahi said in a company statement. “In addition to our platform goals, we’re also committed to reaching net-zero emissions from our corporate operations by 2030.”