The clock is ticking for Uber to electrify its fleet, and the rideshare company wants automakers to help by designing cheaper electric vehicles for its drivers.
Lawmakers set deadlines for rideshare companies to ditch fossil fuels (including California’s Air Resources Board), and Uber has its own electrification deadlines, which range from 2025 until 2030. That’s all well and good, but electric vehicles are still too expensive for most people, including ridesharing drivers.
So CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says Uber is in talks with automakers to build EVs that sacrifice speed, or even a wheel or two, to lower the sticker price. The CEO didn’t name the specific automakers Uber apparently partners with, but the company debuted last year a rideshare oriented prototype from the British automaker Arrival.
“Top speeds that many cars have are not necessary for urban driving associated with shared rides,” Khosrowshahi said at a press conference on Thursday. Wall Street Journal event. “We’re also talking about vehicles built specifically” for delivering things like groceries, he added. “You can imagine smaller vehicles — two-wheelers, three-wheelers — that have a trunk that are easier to get through traffic and that have a much smaller footprint, both in terms of environmental and traffic footprint, than, say, a car.”
The CEO also said the passenger compartment could change, with riders potentially “facing each other”. (The director also didn’t say whether Uber would cover the detail costs of the bouts of motion sickness I assume would cause it.)
When it comes to delivering meals and groceries, Uber isn’t the only company that sees potential in much smaller vehicles with fewer wheels. Even in markets like the US, where auto rickshaws are not common, several companies have discussed this idea in recent years, including Arcimoto and ElectraMeccanica.