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California’s clean air agency is reportedly slated to mandate that nearly all vehicles used by drivers working for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft be electric by 2030. The proposal from the California Air Resources Board would slowly ratchet up mileage standards for ride hailing companies by mandating a certain number of yearly miles traveled be with electric vehicles. It is set to be decided on next month.
In 2018, CARB found that rideshare vehicles made up 1% of the state’s total emissions from passenger vehicles on the road that year. Passenger vehicles make up a third of the state’s total emissions, ahead of other big emitting sectors like livestock and electric plants.
The requirements would start off requiring 2% of all yearly miles driven by ridesharing companies be in electric vehicles in 2023, followed by rising to 30% in 2026, then 50% by 2027, and arriving at 90% by 2030.
The move to regulate rideshare emissions is just part of a bigger push from the state to get a handle on its vehicle emissions. In Sep. 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to get all vehicles sold in-state to be electric by 2035, which is estimated to reduce the state’s overall emissions by 35%. Analysts have predicted that the share of U.S. EV sales will quadruple to 8.5% in the next four years. Worldwide, EV sales reportedly grew by 40% last year to 2.8 million vehicles from 2 million in 2019 — despite the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, shares in EV maker Tesla soared by over 700%; Ford launched its flagship Mach-E as part of a $22 billion electrification push; and GM declared early this year that it will make only electric vehicles by 2035.
A study conducted in 2020 by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that Uber and Lyft trips created almost 70% more emissions than the rides they displaced. The study calculated a solo trip in a ridesharing car created on average 50% more emissions than if the person had just used their own car, mostly due to the rideshare vehicle driving to and fro without a passenger before and after the trip.
The ridesharing companies have promoted the carpooling options like Uber Pool as an environmentally friendly option in the past. However, those pool rides that ridesharing companies said were greener options actually generated around the same amount of emissions as a normal car ride. And now with the pandemic, as people have started taking more ridesharing rides again, the likelihood they’ll use the shared ride option is poor. This will likely result in even more of those emissions-heavy solo rides.
The CARB report admits that the agency “[does] not know the exact strategies TNCs [transportation network companies] will use, nor how the TNC business models may evolve in the future.” Last year, both companies said all rides across the country by 2030 would be 100% electric. Meanwhile, Bloomberg Green reported last month that Uber was missing payments it had promised drivers as incentives to switch over to electric vehicles.