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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Deploying electric vehicles instead of gasoline-powered models for services like Uber and Lyft provides outsized climate benefits compared to emissions cuts from electric vehicles for only personal use, per a peer-reviewed study in Nature Energy.

Why it matters: The analysis, based on California data, follows explosive growth in ride-hailing in recent years — and evidence that it's cannibalizing more climate-friendly mass transit.

  • The study is based on data provided by Uber and Lyft as well as charging providers, which together provide a detailed look at how the limited number of electric vehicles in the ride-hailing fleets actually operate in the real world.

The big picture: "[T]he potential environmental and emission reduction benefits are approximately three times higher for electric vehicles being used in ride-hailing compared with those of regular vehicle usage in California," finds the paper by Alan Jenn. He's with the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.

How it works: There's a couple of big reasons expanding what's now a small number of electric vehicles in ride-sharing is helpful from an emissions standpoint.

  • One is that ride-hailing vehicles log lots of miles, so the comparative advantage of a zero-emissions vehicle becomes proportionately higher.
  • And the charging profile of the ride-hailing vehicle is different than cars used only for personal needs. The ride-hailing cars tend to charge during the day when solar penetration on the grid is higher.

Where it stands: The paper comes as California regulators and ride-hailing companies are seeking to increase the amount of electric vehicles used in the industry.

  • Most recently, Lyft announced a goal in June to have 100% electric vehicles (or other zero-emissions models) on its platform by 2030.
  • But the plan assumes significant help from state and federal policymakers.
  • Electric vehicle adoption in ride-hailing is challenging because the vast majority of vehicles are driver-owned and electric vehicles currently have higher up-front costs.

Go deeper: Global electric vehicle sales topped 2 million in 2019

Go deeper

Updated Jan 22, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: The future of sustainable vehicles

On Friday, January 22, Axios' Joann Muller hosted a conversation on the future of electric vehicles in the U.S., featuring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and SAFE founder and CEO Robbie Diamond.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

Charging network EVgo is going public via SPAC

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

EVgo, a big player in electric vehicle charging, said this morning that it's going public via a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Driving the news: The Los Angeles-based company, which has charging stations in 34 states, expects the deal will bring in $575 million that will "be used to fully fund and accelerate EVgo’s growth strategy and network buildout."

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Donald and Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.