Uber promises 100% EVs by 2040; GM offers Bolt assistance

Uber Technologies Inc. on Tuesday said every vehicle on its global ride-hailing platform will be electric by 2040, and it vowed to contribute $800 million through 2025 to help drivers switch to battery-powered vehicles, including discounts for vehicles bought or leased from partner automakers.

Uber, which as of early February said it had 5 million drivers worldwide, said it formed partnerships with General Motors and the Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi alliance.

In a separate announcement, GM said that eligible Uber drivers in the U.S. and Canada who purchase a 2020 Chevy Bolt can receive a GM employee discount. The discount can be combined with the $8,500 national rebate that’s currently offered, a spokeswoman told Automotive News. Bolt U.S. drivers will also be eligible for a discount of 20 percent below sticker price on accessories, including at-home charging equipment, GM said.

GM and Uber also plan to launch a pilot program for Uber Diamond Drivers in Los Angeles and Denver to offer special financing agreements through GM Financial, GM’s captive finance company.

“Through this program we’re offering new ways for drivers and customers across the country to fall in love with driving electric,” Steve Majoros, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, said in a statement. “This is a key opportunity to grow Chevrolet’s EV business through a program that matches our expertise and strength with a rideshare platform that brings its own scale and reach.”

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

Uber said that vehicles on its rides platform in the United States, Canada and Europe will be zero-emission by 2030, taking advantage of the regulatory support and advanced infrastructure in those regions.

The deals with GM and the Renault alliance focus on the U.S., Canada and Europe. Uber said it was discussing partnerships with other automakers.

Uber’s plan follows years of criticism by environmental groups and city officials over the pollution and congestion caused by ride-hail vehicles and calls for fleet electrification.

Lyft Inc., Uber’s smaller U.S. rival, in June promised to switch to 100 percent EVs by 2030, but said it would not provide direct financial support to drivers.

Uber said its goal is to reduce the overall cost of ownership for EVs, which are currently more expensive than gasoline cars.

The company also released data on its emission footprint and said it would publish reports going forward.

Before the pandemic, electric cars accounted for only 0.15 percent of all U.S. and Canadian Uber trip miles — roughly in line with average U.S. electric car ownership. At around 12 percent, 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 percent of transportation-sector emissions, according to U.S. data, but the total number of on-demand vehicles has significantly increased since Uber’s launch nearly a decade ago, with 7 billion trips last year, according to Uber’s February investor presentation.

Uber said its U.S. and Canadian trips with a passenger produce 41 percent more carbon dioxide per mile than an average private car once miles spent cruising between passengers are included.

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 while consumer demand for electric vehicles remains subdued.

Uber is also working with BP, EVgo and other global charging operators to provide discounts and expand the location of charging stations for ride-hail drivers — generally considered a main hurdle 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.”

Hannah Lutz of Automotive News contributed to this report.

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