Uber Pledges to Go Completely Zero Emissions by 2040

It hopes to help all of its drivers use electric vehicles by 2040, through incentivization and offsetting costs

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Uber has pledged to make all of its cars electric by 2030 in the US, UK, Canada, and Europe, and by 2040 everywhere else. 

The news was announced on Tuesday morning by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi during a virtual press conference. Khosrowshahi reportedly cited the pandemic and its positive effect on the environment.

“COVID-19 didn’t change the fact that climate change remains an existential threat and crisis that needs every person, every business in every nation to act,” Khosrowshahi said. The company hopes to go zero-emissions by 2040, following in the footsteps of other big tech corporations like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Wired rightly points out some holes in the plot, though:

…charging can be slow, taking anywhere between days (a regular wall outlet), hours (a standard charger made for homes), and 30 minutes (a public fast-charger). Not every driver has access to a charger overnight, and in many parts of the US, public chargers can be difficult to find. If a driver covers tens of thousands of miles each year, they might need to replace their battery, which can cost thousands of dollars.

In order to combat these issues and offset some of those costs, Uber has pledged to spend $800 million by 2025 on helping its drivers go electric ($160 million per year).

In the meantime, Uber is hoping to incentivize drivers by adding a surcharge to rides by electric and hybrid vehicles ($1 to be exact) which somehow doesn’t feel like the right way to go about things but, I guess we’ll see for ourselves. This means drivers using battery-powered vehicles can earn an extra $0.50, or $1.50 if they’re using specifically battery-electric vehicles.

The company has also formed partnerships with General Motors in the US and Canada, and Renault-Nissan in cities in the UK, France, Netherlands, and Portugal to get discounts on EVs for its drivers. 

This is a big step, especially since it’s been found that ride-hailing services emit 50% more pollution than ordinary car journeys. And, according to Uber’s February report, the company saw 700 billion trips last year and has 5 million drivers worldwide. Considering the transportation industry makes up a third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, this is a refreshing move and it comes after Uber’s competitor Lyft announced the same goal.

The company is hoping to make EVs cheaper overall considering they’re still less affordable than gasoline cars and it plans to consistently publish reports on its emissions.