One of the more interesting things I’ve encountered since beginning ride share driving several weeks ago is the apparent desire of both Lyft and Uber to convert their entire driver base to electric vehicles. It would apparently be a great thing for the environment as society in general becomes increasingly concerned about the whole global warming thing. This sounds great on the surface, but a deeper look into the number really shows how little the companies truly care about the environment.
At present, I am currently operating with my paid off vehicle that gets about 24 mpg at best. Even with the elevated prices, I’m averaging about $250 per week in fuel, and I’m tacking on an additional $.09 per mile in maintenance costs. I’m not overly concerned with vehicle depreciation, as the vehicle isn’t really worth enough to make much of a difference. In total, I’m paying less than $300 per week in operating costs. Of course, I don’t have a vehicle payment, but even if I had a $400 per month payment it would spread out to add another $100 per week making the total about $400 per week all in.
When I looked at the options for renting out a hybrid or fully electric vehicle from one of the rideshare companies, though, I was shocked to see that they want nearly $500 per week just in rental fees…which doesn’t include the additional items you’ll need like insurance and taxes and all the other little things they include to drive up the final price. Realistically, I can expect to spend at least $600 per week on the rental of a fully electric Tesla, with other models being pretty comparable.
Of course, people will try to tell you that some of that will be offset by the fact that we can charge our vehicles up for cheap, with some saying they’re only spending around $50 per week to charge up their vehicle, but that still makes the final number something like $650 per week. Doing this full time (about 8 hours per day) I don’t even clear $1000 per week gross, which means that more than half my earnings will go toward paying the rental…and I live in a highly populated area with a fair amount of demand.
Now at this point I do have to acknowledge that they offer an additional $1 per ride for vehicles that are “green”, but since I typically average less than 20 rides per day, that’s less than $100 per week added to my total. So let’s say that with the additional boosted pay per ride, that brings my real cost of the rental down to about $550 per week. That’s still over half of what I make per week before taxes and fuel. There’s no money to be made here.
Choosing a hybrid is just as bad. The prices are somewhat lower for those, but since I’d still having to fill up at the pump I would be spending just as much for this option as I would for the fully electric car. The average hybrid gets somewhere between 40-50 mpg, so compared to my current vehicle I’d still be paying around $150 per week on fuel in addition to the rental. Again, there is no money there.
I have no problem with companies needing to make their money, but it’s incredibly frustrating when people decide that they want to push an ideal and then expect everyone else to pay for it. If Uber or Lyft were truly serious about their desire to push a fully electric fleet in the future, they’d be working with car companies and rental companies to drive down the prices for their gig workers. If I could get a rental all in at even $350 per week after fees and charging and insurance, it would be absolutely worth it to dive into an EV. Instead, the platforms leave it up to the drivers to absorb the cost.
So I say all this to say that you should never take a company at their word, and only look at what they actually do. They can say all they want that they care about the environment and global warming, but until they take definitive action to make EVs far more affordable and accessible, it’s all just hollow crap. Actions speak far louder than words, and sometimes you have to suck it up and put your money where your mouth is if you want to be taken seriously.