New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday that Uber and Lyft will need to transition their fleets to zero emission vehicles by the year 2030. This decision, which affects roughly 100,000 for-hire cars in one of the world's major ride hailing markets, will set a precedent for other cities around the US to follow.
The move, which builds on ongoing efforts to electrify the thousands of city fleet vehicles, also includes plans to increase EV charging points across all five boroughs. Adams is expected to task the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to implement the plan, as that department already regulates the for-hire vehicle industry for the city.
While usually resistant to any outside mandates, Uber and Lyft previously made their own announcements to have fully electric fleets and have responded positively to the Mayor's announcement.
Paul Augustine, Lyft’s director of sustainability, said in a statement:
“We are excited to partner with New York City on our journey. New York’s commitment will accelerate an equitable city-wide transition to electric, and we’re eager to collaborate with the TLC on an ambitious plan for a ride share clean mile standard.”
Josh Gold, senior director of policy at Uber, also added:
“We applaud the Mayor’s ambition for reducing emissions, an important goal we share. Uber has been making real progress to become the first zero-emissions mobility platform in North America, and there’s much more to do.”
The transition to electric vehicles for ride hail drivers won't happen overnight - it poses a unique challenge, given that many of them are independent contractors who use their own cars and have limited financial resources. Despite the promising potential savings in fuel costs and maintenance over time, EVs often come with a steep initial investment; something cash-strapped gig economy operators may not be able to afford.
The City of New York isn't the first major market to make such an announcement. In 2021 California adopted new rules requiring ride-sharing companies to electrify their fleets by 2030 as well.
While some people are lauding the move as ambitious and much needed in order to combat climate change, others are skeptical of how such a large-scale transition will take place.
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