It might not be long before every ridesharing car in New York City is electric. Mayor Eric Adams has outlined an agenda that will require “high-volume for-hire” vehicles at Uber, Lyft and similar companies to be zero-emissions by 2030. There will be “no new costs” for drivers, the administration says. The initiative would build on the city’s plans to electrify its own fleet.
Adams didn’t detail how this transition would take place. The Vergenotes that the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which already regulates NYC ridesharing, would likely be responsible for implementing the EV strategy.
At least some companies are already onboard with the idea. Uber “applaud[s]” Adams’ plan, according to a statement, while Lyft says it’s “excited” to work with the city. It’s not a difficult target for them, however. Uber and Lyft were already planning to go completely electric by 2030. They also have programs in place to encourage EV adoption across the US, such as Uber’s rentals through Hertz as well as Lyft’s incentives. Pressure elsewhere might also leave services with little choice. California will require that most ride-hailing cars are EVs by 2030, for instance.
Drivers may face challenges, however. EVs are currently more expensive than their combustion engine counterparts, and workers may have trouble affording them even if the maintenance costs are ultimately lower. EV prices are declining, but it may be a while yet before they’re truly affordable to a driver base struggling to improve pay.
There’s also the question of infrastructure. A 2022 study led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that NYC would need over 1,000 150kW fast charging stations to adequately power 20,000 rideshare and taxi cars, even if 15 percent of drivers could top up overnight. The mayor’s proposal would electrify “100,000-plus” rides — the city may need a major investment in charging facilities to make the switch.
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