According to statistics, there are around 3.9 million Uber drivers worldwide and about a million Lyft drivers in the United States. For Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City, things are about to change – in a big way. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday during his State of the City address that Uber and Lyft must be fully electric by 2030. That means these transport apps will need a zero-emissions fleet by that year. The plans are expected to affect around 100,000 for-hire cars operating in the city. 

Adams also mentioned in his address that New York City is committed to making the place healthier and more sustainable, and one of the ways to attain this goal is to electrify the vehicles in the Big Apple. 

100 percent electric

Uber and Lyft will be expected to support the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), as the plan also intends to help relieve New York City’s for-hire drivers of costs. 

The address also seemed to say that businesses will be responsible for supporting their employees “with no new costs for individual drivers.”

Adams noted that both the ride-hailing apps are embracing this change, as both these companies have committed to long-term goals that will see their drivers switch to EVs by 2030’s end. In addition, the New York City mayor also said that residents in the Big Apple must also try to drive EVs. This supports the plans to establish more EV charging infrastructure in the city’s five boroughs. 

May not be easy

However, convincing Uber and Lyft drivers to lease new electric cars may not be that easy, especially since many of these ride-hail drivers are independent contractors who use their own cars to drive, just like in many other parts of the world.

Furthermore, EVs are also more expensive than gas vehicles, despite costing less to fuel and maintenance. Those steep upfront costs likewise make it challenging for many drivers, who usually operate with incredibly tight margins, to adhere to this change. 

Josh Gold, Uber’s Public Policy and Communications Senior Director, told the media, “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. We look forward to working with the TLC to achieve zero-emissions in New York City in a way that benefits drivers, riders, and the city.”

As of press time, Lyft has not yet issued a statement. 

New York is not the first government to require ride-hail fleets to be all-electric. In 2021, the state of California required ridesharing companies to electrify their fleets by 2030, which is a few years before California expects to ban the sale of new gas vehicles completely.

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