A draft for a new law in California may force ride-share programs such as Uber and Lyft to switch to all-electric fleet by 2028. The government aims to facilitate the process by offering subsidies valued at a total of 300 million dollars.
How the changes will actually take place is a different question altogether. Considering that neither Uber nor Lyft actually own any of the vehicles in their “fleet”, applying pressure to the corporate side of the organization will likely not yield the desired results. If drivers are continued to be expected to purchase their own work vehicles, these subsidies need to aim at private pockets, and not corporate wallets.
Aside from forcing ride-share companies to take responsibility for their employees, who tend to operate on more of a freelance level, there is also the difficulty of identifying drivers for such services, as opposed to regular private drivers. On the other hand, both companies have announced that they are reviewing the bill, and intend to fully support the transition to electric mobility.
The bill currently foresees a shift in the percentage of miles driven by the companies to change gradually over time, with a requirement of 20% of the miles driven to be electrical in 2020, moving up to 50% by 2023 and standing at 100% in 2028.
The Lyft spokesperson Chelsea Harrington commented that “While we are supportive of increasing the number of of electric vehicles on the road, we are also concerned about the impact of placing costly requirements on drivers who depend on ride-sharing to make ends meet”, indicating that the companies are fully aware of the tricky legal situation involving their employees, and that adding financial burdens to the fiercely independent workforce may result in a collapse of the business model, if handled incorrectly. Ubers’ spokesperson Austin Hayworth had a similar comment, also reaffirming the companys’ support for environmentally friendly policies, however they are wary of “limiting economic earnings opportunities”.
It will be interesting to follow the changes in the state, as the US American federal government is currently moving away from sustainable energy in a bid to reverse time on coal energy, and individual states are experimenting with measures to transition to a more modern economy and sustainable lifestyle.