Jan 16, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: Uber steps up efforts to get drivers into Teslas

Illustration of an Uber car navigating streets on a map grid

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Uber is working with Tesla to encourage its drivers to switch to electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its broader goal to be emissions-free in the U.S. and Canada by 2030, the ride-hailing company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Uber can't force its drivers to go electric, but various incentives have helped it boost EV uptake in the last few years.

  • Still, Uber needs to do more to accelerate the shift and meet its climate commitment.

Driving the news: The new effort is happening on two fronts:

  • Uber has begun sharing data with Tesla about where its drivers do most of their trips, starting in New York City. That will help demonstrate where charging infrastructure is most needed.
  • It's also offering drivers incentives of up to $2,000 on the purchase of a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, and is hosting test drive events at select Tesla stores to expose drivers to the EV experience.

Between the lines: By sharing trip data, Uber aims to influence the buildout of the next wave of Tesla Superchargers.

  • The data will show where drivers could benefit from overnight charging access — but will be aggregated and anonymized to avoid revealing individual drivers' addresses.

The purchase incentives are in addition to federal tax credits of up to $7,500 for U.S. EV buyers.

  • Uber drivers will get a referral code to purchase a new Model 3 or Model Y directly from Tesla. They must take delivery by March 31 and complete 100 trips by May 15 to qualify.
  • In December — before U.S. tax credits were eliminated on some versions of the Model 3 — Uber offered a similar incentive, for up to $3,000.
  • Of note: Uber drivers in Canada are also eligible for a $2,000 purchase incentive on a new Tesla.

What they're saying: "We know from listening to Uber drivers that the cost of ownership and access to convenient charging are the top two barriers preventing them from going electric, and we are excited to work with Tesla to tackle both of these issues," Andrew Macdonald, senior vice president of mobility and business operations at Uber, tells Axios via email.

  • "Working with cities, there is much more we can do together to speed up the pace of electrification."

The big picture: Uber has been urging drivers to go electric since September 2020 through various incentives.

  • Uber drivers get discounted EV rentals at Hertz, for example, and earn more per ride if they drive an EV.
  • Rides in zero-emission vehicles accounted for 6.5% of Uber trips in the U.S. and Canada in the third quarter of 2023, per the company's latest sustainability reports.
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