Is Uber Green right for me?
Uber expanded its Uber Green program to New York City earlier this year. So how does it work, and is it really worth rideshare drivers making the switch to electric vehicles? We’ve put together the info you need to weigh up whether going green could work for you.
With Uber Green, riders can request a trip that’s powered by an electric vehicle (EV). While the vehicles may look and feel like any other ride, under the hood they are definitely different.
Uber estimates the average trip in a hybrid or EV produces at least 25% fewer carbon emissions than non-low emission rides.
Uber Green was introduced in North American cities including New York in early 2021 as part of the company’s plans to become a zero-emissions platform. The aim is that by 2030, all trips in the US, Canada, and Europe will be made with electric vehicles or zero-emission alternatives such as e-scooters.
The following information is correct at the time of writing on September 28, 2021.
How it works
There are a couple of ways Uber is encouraging the use of EVs.
The Zero Emissions incentive has run for the past year and lets drivers of fully electric vehicles earn an extra $1 on every Uber trip, up to $4,000 annually. If you drive an EV on the Uber platform, you automatically opt into Uber Green. On each Uber Green trip, you’ll earn an extra $0.50, on top of what you get from the Zero Emissions incentive.
Popular EVs include the Tesla Model 3, the BMW i3, and the Chevy Bolt.
Riders benefit too, and not just from knowing their journey is quieter and isn’t contributing new emissions.
Riders pay $1 more for Uber Green, but it also earns them more loyalty points – 3x the points compared with 2x the points on UberX. Uber Pass members also get a 10% discount on all Green trips, plus 3x the reward points.
Things to think about
For some rideshare drivers, Uber Green might feel a bit unrealistic. While there’s a growing appetite for adopting EVs overall, in early 2020 just 0.3% of TLC vehicles were electric.
And it’s not just about the car – it’s also about what you need to run it. Access to charging points can be difficult, especially in a city where many drivers aren’t able to park in home garages where chargers can be installed.
To try and help things along, Uber has announced partnerships with carmakers, charging network providers and rental companies to support drivers in making the move to EVs.
For example, Uber Green drivers can get 25% savings on EVGo Fast Charging stations’ standard rates and discounts on Enel X home charging kits. Uber says that by 2025 it will spend some $800m to help drivers transition from gas to electric vehicles.
There is a big initial cost to owning an EV, but typically they cost less over the time you own them than
standard gas-powered drives, with electricity being cheaper than both gas and diesel. They also tend to need less maintenance over time, not least because they have fewer parts that might need replacing.
One report estimates the maintenance and repairs savings for EV owners at about 50% compared with standard vehicles.
The TLC question
As national and city lawmakers get to grips with the EV revolution there are still developments for drivers to keep an eye on.
The TLC’s decision in the summer to stop issuing new for-hire licenses for EVs, despite the city’s commitment to the clean air agenda, came as a bolt from the blue.
However, it doesn’t affect drivers who already hold TLC licenses, who may even benefit due to the restriction on competition for EV rides. It’s also possible to transfer an existing license from a gas vehicle to an electric vehicle, should you need to.
The direction of travel in New York is still towards greater use of EVs, including for rideshare. The TLC says it’s “committed to an all-electric future” and that EVs would form part of its regular reviews as to whether more vehicles are needed.
For more info on electric vehicles, read our previous blogs:
- The benefits of driving an electric vehicle for TLC drivers
- What next after the electric vehicle license U-turn?
At INSHUR, we always want to help our drivers by making sure they’ve got the right coverage. For more on how we can help and to get a TLC insurance quote in minutes, check out INSHUR now.
Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images