Calif.: Uber, Lyft Drivers Must Start Going Electric in 2023

Yesterday, the California Air Resources Board voted to require ride-hailing businesses to begin using more electric vehicles in 2023. By 2030, 90 percent of the companies' miles must come from EVs.

(TNS) — California's Uber and Lyft drivers must start switching to electric vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board voted Thursday to require ride-hailing companies to phase electric vehicles into their fleets starting in 2023. By 2030, at least 90% of the miles driven by ride-hail companies in California must be in electric vehicles.

The board's vote represents another step in California's crusade to electrify its cars and trucks to reduce carbon emissions and battle climate change. Amid the worst wildfire season on record last fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order eliminating the sale of new gas and diesel cars by 2035.

"The transportation sector is reponsible for nearly half of California's greenhouse gas emissions, the vast majority of which come from light-duty vehicles. This action will help provide certainty to the state's climate efforts and improve air quality in our most disadvantaged communities," air board Chairwoman Liane Randolph said in a prepared statement.

The air board said the ride-hailing companies have several routes to help meet the electrification mandates — including stepping up the number of carpooled rides and reducing "deadhead miles" driven without any passengers.

Uber and Lyft have embraced electrification goals generally, pledging to help their drivers switch to green vehicles. Uber drivers who buy electric cars, for instance, can earn an extra $1 per trip. Lyft drivers can rent electric vehicles.

But the companies warned that California's air board has imposed a difficult mandate, especially given the high cost of electric vehicles. The Natural Resources Defense Council says the average electric car is $19,000 more expensive than a gas car.

Requirement 'Could Economically Harm Drivers'

Lyft's senior manager for sustainability, Paul Augustine, said in a letter to the board that Lyft supports California's electrification and clean-air goals but is worried that the Air Resources Board is glossing over the difficulties in meeting the 2030 mandates.

The program "could economically harm low- and moderate-income drivers in particular," he wrote. He added that California is making a mistake with its "singular focus" on ride-hailing vehicles, given that they represent "only 1.2% of total vehicle-miles traveled" in California.

Uber, meanwhile, pleaded with the air board for lenience and flexibility.

"We also respectfully recommend adding off-ramps that would excuse non-compliance and adjust GHG and (mileage) targets in the event of various potential market-wide conditions," a team of Uber executives wrote to the air board.

The air board's mandate calls for 2% of miles driven by the ride-hailing companies to be in electric vehicles, ramping up to 90% in 2030.

©2021 The Sacramento Bee, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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