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Uber dials up pressure on EV market

May 17, 2022

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Uber is offering "comfort electric" vehicles for riders as it prepares to roll out a suite of educational materials, discounts and charging maps for its drivers just as the EV industry is reckoning with a historic supply chain crisis.

Why it matters: If drivers take Uber up on its incentives en masse, pressure on EV makers could skyrocket amid rocky market conditions.

Context: Uber already signed an agreement with Hertz to more easily allow drivers to rent Teslas as part of its push to an all-electric fleet by 2030.

State of play: The broader EV market is volatile after many manufacturers cited ongoing supply chain constraints and materials shortages as reasons for ongoing vehicle-delivery delays amid a surge of consumer demand, and Uber's announcement is poised to only up the pressure.

  • On a press call, Uber vice president of product management Sachin Kansal tells Axios that the company does not expect the delivery delays to impact its broader commitment to an all-electric fleet in North America and Europe by 2030.

Yes, but: As the industry-wide EV order backlog increases and some EV makers halt new orders to catch up, Uber drivers may not be able to get the vehicles in hand regardless of how many incentives Uber throws their way.

  • Uber drivers who currently drive EVs get a $1-per-trip zero-emissions incentive, Kansal says.
  • Kansal also says Uber is working with its partners, including Hertz and Tesla, to provide other incentives to decrease the upfront costs of EVs.
  • Uber did not break out the percentage of drivers that drive EVs, owned or rented, in its latest sustainability report.

The intrigue: The charging infrastructure map will embed directly into Uber's driver map and may eventually expand to all Uber drivers instead of just those with EVs, Kansal says.

  • The lack of charging infrastructure is one of the oft-cited concerns related to EV adoption, but Uber declined to comment on plans to provide broader public access to its infrastructure map.

The bottom line: Encouraging EV adoption will only increase the demand pressure on the handful of EV makers still churning out vehicles.

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