Where is my electric vehicle, Uber?

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Last Sunday, I had a shower thought wondering why ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft lack an electric vehicle option. You can share a sedan, hail a luxury SUV, and call a wheelchair-accessible ride. But you can’t choose to ride in an electric vehicle. What gives?

Uber facilitates over 10,000 rides every minute. The transportation unicorn’s 3 million drivers have logged over 5 billion trips worldwide, but very few vehicles in the fleet are electric or hybrid. With this incredible reach, ride sharing companies have much more climate change power than they credit themselves. While some incentives are built in for ride sharing drivers to switch to EVs, Uber does not incentivize the customer. The hybrid, electric, and autonomous vehicle revolution may hit the U.S. eventually, but ride sharing services can do more to speed up adoption.

A few ride sharing ideas:

  1. Offer renting and leasing options to drivers favoring electric vehicles. Uber’s EV incentive today is only for the UK, and they partner with Hertz, Getaround, and Fair for renting. Promotion of the $7,500 U.S. federal rebate on new electric vehicle purchases would be a great starting point.
  2. Invest in charging infrastructure, not renewable energy credits. Many companies, Lyft included, claim they are 100% carbon neutral via extensive investment in renewable projects or credits. In my opinion, this is a workaround to investing in on-site solar, storage, and charging infrastructure — physical proof the company is serious about being green and a signal to employees their purchase of an EV is welcome.
  3. Modify vehicle requirements for drivers. ie. Your car must be no more than 8 years old or hybrid/electric. As EVs become more popular, this rule becomes increasingly important to wean out petrol.
  4. Test an ‘Uber EV’ option. Yes, I hear you. Uber would never launch this service unless it was profitable. However, Uber is losing ~$1 billion per quarter ahead of their 2019 public offering with plans to profit from new businesses like Uber Eats. I wouldn’t underestimate the number of green ride sharing users willing to pay one or two dollars more per ride to help electric transportation adoption.

Consumers will adopt clean energy solutions once they are convenient and affordable. Solar, storage, EV chargers — these are remarkable advancements but often expensive or unattainable by the average home owner or city dweller, respectively. So, can mainstream services like ride sharing fuel clean energy adoption sooner?

(Happy to continue the conversation on Twitter)


Where is my electric vehicle, Uber? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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