California officials are implementing a new mandate on Uber and Lyft starting on Thursday that would require the ride-hailing companies to slowly transition to using electronic vehicles over the next few years, the state’s clean air regulator said.
While Uber and Lyft said they supported the agency’s decision, they said they needed help to financially support their drivers who were in the lower- to middle-income brackets. They argued that many of their partners will have trouble paying for the costs of transitioning to electric vehicles.
Transition to Electronic Vehicles
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously voted in support of the new mandate which requires the ride-hailing companies to have at least 90% of their vehicle miles be electronic vehicles by 2030.
The effort has already been started by both Uber and Lyft, who are aiming to change their entire fleet to EVs by the same year, they committed last year. However, they said the goals would be impossible to reach without further government support such as subsidies and charging infrastructure.
The ride-hailing companies said the government’s mandates were based on uncertain and unrealistic assumptions. They argued the decision would only harm drivers if EV and charging opportunities are not sufficient.
While CARB approved the mandate, many of its board members expressed similar concerns about the negative impact the changes will force on drivers. However, they said that it was the companies’ responsibility to support their drivers in transitioning to EVs by the set deadline.
“There is no way for us to make sure that the (companies) actually bear the costs to address the greenhouse gases and air pollution they’re creating and profiting off,” board member Nathan Fletcher said.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, said the total cost of transitioning to 90% EVs by 2030 could reach up to $1.73 billion. Uber and Lyft both have partnerships with rental companies and charging station providers, allowing them to get discounts for their drivers transitioning to EVs, Reuters reported.
Additionally, Uber said it will invest a massive $800 million fund through 2025 that would help its drivers worldwide slowly make their way to EVs. The major issue is that drivers are considered independent contractors and not employees, which makes it difficult for regulators to protect them legally.