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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

There's good news and bad news when it comes to curbing carbon emissions from Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services, courtesy of new analysis from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing creates new emissions challenges.

  • A number of analyses show that it's adding to congestion and cannibalizing trips that otherwise would have happened via mass transit or other low-carbon means (like feet!).
  • But, steps to electrify ride-hailing will have spillover effects that boost EV adoption more broadly.

What they found: Current market and tech trends won't do the trick when it comes to getting the industry to go electric on a timeline consistent with aggressive emissions cuts.

  • "We find that, despite rapidly reducing battery costs, ridehailing electrification is not inevitable by 2030. EVs face many barriers in ridehailing applications, aside from just high up-front prices."

Yes, but: The good news is that it's hardly an impossible nut to crack, RMI concludes, although it will take a village that includes state and local policymakers, utilities and big automakers.

How it works: RMI recommends a wide array of steps to make EV ownership for ride-hailing drivers more accessible and competitive with gasoline vehicles. They include...

  • Improving access to home charging, via steps like power company incentives and building code changes. That makes EVs more competitive for drivers who'll miss fewer rides while charging.
  • Implementing programs that lower costs of public charging and encouraging the buildout of public charging infrastructure.
  • Reducing any "barriers of entry" to buying new and used EVs, such as "scrap and replace" incentives, as well as wider adoption of EV rental programs.

Catch up fast: Uber wants EVs to account for 100% of its rides in American, Canadian and European cities by 2030.

  • And Lyft has vowed to have 100% of rides from its platform come from zero-emissions vehicles by 2030.
  • But both companies acknowledge that the targets rely on outside policy changes to succeed.

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.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow discussed legislation focusing on electric vehicle infrastructure, from charging stations across the country, to investing in the development of electric heavy-duty trucks and larger vehicles.

  • On the Biden administration's focus on electrification: "I'm very excited about the Biden administration's major push on electric charging stations...So people [can] feel comfortable that they can not only drive around town but can drive across the country and have the [infrastructural] support for that."
  • On how the government can learn from the private sector on spurring growth for electric vehicles: "Companies on their own are putting together incentives and support for folks who are doing grants or tax credits or supporting folks that are putting in the capacity to charge at home. I think we have to just get over this sense that this is hard. This is not hard."

Robbie Diamond unpacked the manufacturing supply chain in electric vehicle development and stressed the importance of diversifying sources for battery materials.

  • Why electricity is a flexible fuel source: "We had recommended that we diversify the fuel sources into our transportation sector. And one of the best ways to do that is through electric vehicles...because we produce electricity using so many different fuel sources."
  • On investment in electric vehicles as a part of international security: "When you begin to look at this, the control that China has over batteries and the supply chain of electric vehicles is way bigger than Saudi Arabia ever had or OPEC when it came to oil."

Axios Chief Revenue Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Ford Motor Company Americas and International Markets Group President Kumar Galhotra discussing the future of electric cars in the U.S. and the importance of the public and private sectors working together.

  • "This is the fuel of the future. And we don't want to get left behind because Europe and China already have very clearly articulated strategies for electrification [and] electric vehicles that we don't have yet. So it is very important for us, both the government, this administration, and automakers to accelerate electrification plans."

Thank you Ford Motor Company for sponsoring this event.

Updated 55 seconds ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 1 hour ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.