- Free Consultations / No Fees Until We Win
- (213) 927-3700
Personal Injury Firm
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) reportedly proposed rules mandating that electric vehicles (EVs) account for 90% of ride-hailing vehicle miles traveled by 2030, a goal which companies like Uber and Lyft had already set for themselves. The app giants recently committed to convert their U.S. fleets entirely to EVs by that same year.
But now, the companies are saying that mandating such costly measures are “unrealistic” without more public subsidies for EV implementation. Uber and Lyft are pushing back on the CARB effort to force the transition, arguing taxpayers should shoulder much of the burden.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that projected the transition’s total cost at Reuters’ request, the total cost of meeting California’s 2030 standard could reach $1.73 billion — even when government subsidies and projected declines in electric-vehicle costs are considered.
Uber and Lyft’s business models pose the biggest obstacles to converting their fleets to EVs. Having won the battle against California over worker classification, their drivers own their cars and work as much or as little as they please. And even those working full-time don’t make enough to justify the higher upfront costs of EVs — even with prices soaring as the demand for rides returns.
“You’d need to pay off my car … and then give me incentives to make it worthwhile for me to be on a new payment program,” Daniel Russell, who drove for Uber and Lyft in Los Angeles before the pandemic, told Reuters. He also said that most drivers buy used vehicles and many have poor credit that forces them into expensive car loans.
And according to Uber and Lyft, they can’t afford the EV transition either. In a December letter to CARB, Uber said that without “sufficient” subsidies the rule would unduly burden the companies, along with their drivers and consumers. “No one government nor single company … can bear the full cost of a rapid transition alone,” Uber said in a statement to Reuters. Lyft said in a statement that taxpayers should finance the transition because current government subsidies are only sufficient to make EVs affordable for “typically high-income white homeowners,” while most California Lyft drivers are lower-income minorities.
However, Joshua Cunningham, chief of CARB’s sustainable transport staff, said the agency supports more subsidies for lower-income drivers but that, regardless, Uber and Lyft can handle the transition CARB is mandating.
California State Senator Nancy Skinner — who introduced the 2018 law on which the CARB regulations are based— said the companies should pay most of the cost for fleet conversion because their businesses have increased carbon emissions. “It’s because of them that these vehicles are driving additional miles and making additional trips,” she reportedly said.
A new study found that the cars driven by contractors from the ridesharing companies actually increase congestion and reduce transit use. Specifically, the researchers noted that congestion increased by almost 1%, while the duration of congestion rose by 4.5%. They also found a 8.9% drop in public transport ridership and an insignificant decrease of only 1% in private vehicle ownership.
Both ridesharing companies have disputed this, saying their impact on traffic is small and citing a study they commissioned. Uber and Lyft cited existing partnerships with rental companies and charging station providers to lower drivers’ EV costs and said they are seeking similar arrangements with automakers.
Ride-hailing trips currently make up just 1.2% of all passenger vehicle miles traveled in California. But according to CARB, drivers for ride-hailing firms produce more pollution per passenger-mile traveled because they spend more than a third of their time cruising without riders and only rarely carry multiple riders.