Uber Wants an All-EV Fleet by 2040

The ride-hailing company promises to help its drivers purchase electric vehicles.

September 10, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO—Uber plans to be completely free of carbon emissions by 2040, the company announced this week, and to reach that goal, the company has pledged $800 million to help drivers switch to electric vehicles. 

According to Reuters, Uber wants every vehicle on its ride-hailing platform to be electric by 2040, and will provide drivers with financial help when they switch to battery-powered vehicles. Assistance will come in the form of discounts for vehicles bought or leased from partner automakers, including General Motors and the Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi alliance. Uber said it was discussing partnerships with other manufacturers. As of early February, Uber had five million drivers worldwide.

In addition, the company said the $800 million includes discounts for charging and a fare surcharge for electric and hybrid vehicles, the cost of which would be partially offset by a small fee charged to customers who request a “green trip.”

Uber wants to use only zero-emission vehicles in the United States, Canada and Europe by 2030 and will take advantage of the regulatory support and advanced infrastructure in those regions. The announcement comes after environmental groups and city officials have criticized ride-share services for contributing to pollution and congestion.

Before the pandemic, electric cars accounted for only 0.15% of all U.S. and Canadian Uber trip miles, which is roughly in line with average U.S. electric car ownership. At around 12%, the share of plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars was roughly five times as high as the U.S. average.

Ride-hail trips overall account for less than 0.6% of transportation-sector emissions, according to U.S. data, but the total number of on-demand vehicles has significantly increased since Uber was founded nearly a decade ago. The company recorded seven billion trips last year.

Uber’s plans could be a boon to the auto industry. Stricter environmental regulation, particularly in Europe, is forcing automakers to invest billions to overhaul their operations despite consumers’ slow acceptance of EVs. Uber is also working with BP, EVgo and other global charging providers to give discounts and expand the number of charging stations for ride-hail drivers, which has been one of the main hurdles to wider EV adoption.

Beginning on Tuesday, all U.S. and Canadian Uber drivers in a fully battery-powered electric vehicle will receive $1 extra per trip, and an additional 50 cents in major U.S. cities if passengers choose to pay extra when booking a “green trip.”

Lyft, Uber's largest competitor, previously pledged to hit the all-electric mark by 2030, but it isn't providing the same financial support to drivers.