Uber is expanding Comfort Electric, the ride-hailing giant’s premium electric vehicle offering, to 14 new markets across the U.S. and Canada. Now, customers in a total of 40 North American markets can book a flashy, environmentally friendly ride.
Eligible luxury EVs include Tesla models S, 3, X and Y, the Polestar 2, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Audi e-Tron, the Porsche Taycan and the Hyundai Ioniq.
The expansion is in line with Uber’s goal to become a zero-emissions mobility platform by 2030 in the U.S., Canada and Europe. That goal is fueled in part by California’s 2021 ruling that ride-hail trips must be done in EVs by that same year. So far only 4.1% of trip miles have been completed with electric vehicles, luxury or otherwise, in the U.S. and Canada. Uber didn’t provide TechCrunch with the percentage of rides done by EVs in California specifically.
Uber said its partnership with Hertz to rent Teslas to drivers in over 30 U.S. and Canadian cities has helped accelerate EV adoption across its drivers in the U.S. Already, nearly 50,000 drivers have rented a Tesla through the program, completing more than 24 million electric trips, the company said.
Uber expanded its Hertz partnership to Europe in January, making up to 25,000 Tesla and Polestar vehicles available to drivers by 2025, starting in London, then Paris and Amsterdam.
Uber also offers riders Uber Green, which provides access to trips driven by hybrid or less fancy EVs, your standard Nissan Leafs and Chevy Bolts of the world.
Uber launched Comfort Electric in May 2022 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Dubai. The new markets opened Thursday include Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Montreal (Canada), Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Tampa Bay and Toronto (Canada).
The price point of Comfort Electric rides is usually something in between Uber Comfort and Uber Black, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. As a sweetener, Uber is offering riders a discount of up to 25% off for two Comfort Electric trips with the code GOELECTRIC from April 11-30.
Getting drivers to switch to electric
Uber says it has quadrupled the number of EV drivers on its platform over the past year, with around 38,000 monthly active EV drivers in the U.S., Canada and Europe recorded in Q3 2022 (Europe likely makes up a larger portion of drivers with EVs). But the company still has a ways to go until it can achieve 100% zero emissions rides. That goal is made more complicated by the fact that Uber’s drivers are independent contractors not employees, and therefore have to acquire EVs on their own dime.
While federal EV tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act promise drivers up to $7,500 in rebates, most EVs, particularly luxury EVs, are still expensive. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of an EV at the end of 2022 was $61,488 compared to $49,507 for all passenger cars and trucks.
Some drivers who buy higher end vehicles are feeling the sting of high upfront cost and low earnings, especially after Uber this week disclosed CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s total compensation rose 22% last year to $24.3 million — broken down that’s $1 million base salary, around $14 million in stock awards, $6 million in option awards, a $2.9 million bonus and $170,000 in other compensation for personal travel and security.
For its part, Uber has invested $800 million in resources to help drivers make the switch by 2025. The company offers drivers $1 per trip completed with an EV (capping out at $4,000), and drivers have said it makes a huge difference — especially when they purchase cheaper EVs and can see cost savings from not using gas. The company has also teamed up with Truecar to give drivers perks worth up to $2,000. Drivers in certain markets can also rent or lease EVs at discounted rates from Hertz, Avis, Ford, Drive Sally, Hive, Zevvy and HyreCar.
Uber also says drivers are eligible for discounts on EVgo charging and can get $100 off a Wallbox charger, and another $100 off installation. The company recently updated the driver app to show drivers where the nearest EV chargers are located.