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California Considers Mandating Electric Cars for Uber and Lyft

Published on May 21, 2020 at 7:47 am in News.

California regulators, in collaboration with the California Air Resources Board, held a workshop last Friday, May 15, to discuss a way to mandate electric cars for transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber.

According to research compiled from the state, ridesharing contributes to approximately one percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions for the light-duty vehicle sector. That percentage is continuing to climb. In total, transportation throughout the state contributes to nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

In addition to the greenhouse emission numbers, it’s also been reported that 39% of ride-hailing trips are deadhead miles—which are the miles driven with just the driver, whether they’re heading home or going to and from ordered rides. That means that the average Uber or Lyft trip creates 50% more harmful air emissions than the average car trip.

Currently, discussions are taking place to determine how to reduce the impact from deadhead miles. While no officials laws have been enacted, there has been talk of mandating electric cars for rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber.

If mandates were to take effect, regulations would primarily be focused around the percentage of electric vehicle miles traveled and only counting those miles covered by battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles. Plug-in hybrid vehicles wouldn’t be counted because there is no standardized, centralized way of knowing how often and when those drivers actually plug their vehicles in. Some studies show that a significant portion never do.

If the Clean Cars Program submits its proposal to the California Air Resources Board by the end of the year, network companies would then have until January 2022 to submit two-year plans to meet the required criteria. The first compliance year for the new standards would be 2023.

If the proposal is successful, it’s estimated that electric car usage would go from five percent in 2023 up to either 32% or 51% in 2030. In addition to that, studies project lower emissions from 250 grams per passenger miles traveled today to between 38.4 and 68.6 grams in 2030.

At this time, officials from the California Air Resources Board have not determined how to enforce future policies or whether there will be fines. Officials are also currently welcoming alternatives to the proposed method that can achieve the same benefits at a lower cost. They are asking for comments by June 15.

While Uber and Lyft have environmental initiatives, neither has a substantial percentage of electric vehicles in service. For more on the latest rideshare industry news, click here.