The California Air Resources Board voted in favor of a new “Clean Miles Standard” mandate on Thursday that will make ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft be comprised of at least 90% electric vehicles by 2030.
Under the new mandate, the electric vehicles (EV) percentage required each year would be slowly weaned in. While beginning modestly with a required minimum of 2% EVs for each rideshare company in 2023, the percentage quickly jumps up to 30% in 2026, 50% in 2027, and 90% in 2030.
Both Uber and Lyft were welcoming of the vote, as both companies had already announced that they would have 100% electric fleets by 2030 anyway. Uber has pledged $800 million to help make their fleet all electric in the coming years. However, both companies noted that rider adoption of EVs would be very difficult due to the cost of electric vehicles, as well as many drivers unwilling to adopt the new policy. Both also noted that considerable help, such as EV subsidies, more charging locations, and special driver considerations to let vehicles age out, would be needed to realistically meet the goal.
“Lyft supports CARB’s EV and GHG targets for TNCs and advocated for aggressive targets throughout the process,” said Lyft senior manager of sustainability Paul Augustine in a statement. “We look forward to continued partnership with CARB and a diverse group of stakeholders – TNCs, policymakers, environmental groups, auto manufacturers and charging network providers – as it will take the work of all of us to achieve this goal.”
In written comments before the CARB vote, Uber was even more blunt with the need of considerable help from the government, even pointing out just how nearly impossible these regulations could really be.
“Assuming the [CARB model] has correctly predicted the number of EVs available each year through 2030, there should be approximately 650,000 EVs available in 2030,” explained Uber in their remarks. “Given the proposed targets, this means that TNC drivers will have to acquire 50%+ of the entire available fleet of EVs in the state of California by 2030 despite making up less than 1% of the total California population. Assuming that over 50% of the state’s EV supply will be adopted by less than 1% of the population is not realistic, even with massive subsidies.”
“This disproportionate ratio means that the lower and moderate income TNC driver population will be forced to compete with wealthier California residents for an overwhelming percentage of the EV inventory,” continued Uber. “This will likely result in two outcomes. First, the price of EVs in the primary market may increase given the increased demand competition. Second, TNC operators will be forced to look at a nascent EV secondary market where supply is generally less reliable, of lower performance (e.g., battery life and range, passenger and trunk capacity), less supported by subsidies and carries a higher TCO than used hybrids.”
90% EV by 2030
While CARB board members agreed that drivers could be financially hurt by the new mandate, many members reversed the blame on the rideshare companies, criticizing them for not helping out their own drivers.
“There is no way for us to make sure that the (companies) actually bear the costs to address the greenhouse gases and air pollution they’re creating and profiting off,” said CARB board member and San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher on Thursday.
Many observers noted on Thursday and Friday that EV subsidies would make the most sense, with the board members blaming the companies themselves seemed politically, or even personally, motivated.
“It was California politics at its finest on Thursday,” noted former rideshare company advisor Gina D’Amico to the Globe on Friday. “The biggest critic of the rideshare companies, and the one who really pushed for these regulations, was Nathen Fletcher. Doing everything he could to make them look bad. But look deeper. Who is his wife? Lorena Gonzalez, as in the person who started AB 5 Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).”
“His wife failed to have rideshare companies be covered under AB 5 when Prop. 22 was passed, so now her husband is going after them from a different angle, despite the companies already giving a commitment to do the very thing before, only not giving them help to make it happen. He also blatantly ignored Uber’s $800 million commitment to help switch over.”
Many also criticized CARB for making such a sweeping ruling without passing it first by the California legislature, as only the Legislature can make new CARB laws. However, legal experts noted that despite significant oversight by the legislature, permission was not needed in this case.
“It’s a small enough environmental regulation that legislative action isn’t needed,” said one anonymous San Francisco-based lawyer to the Globe on Friday. “Now if they said all cars needed to be electric by 2030, that’s when you get into legislature, Gavin Newsom-type territory. These are just new rules.”
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit research group, the final cost to meet the new EV rideshare regulation could be as much as $1.73 billion due in part to the large numbers of new cars required. CARB’s action on Thursday made California the first U.S. state to have such an EV-rideshare mandate.
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