As California rideshare companies face electric-vehicle mandates in the coming years, a question of how drivers for the services would be able to afford those vehicles has persisted. While help on the vehicle purchase price remains uncertain, Uber (NYSE: UBER) has taken the first step to provide some assistance on the charging infrastructure.
Uber is partnering with Wallbox (NYSE: WBX) on an EV charging and energy management system plan for rideshare drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area under a pilot program. Uber drivers will be offered a discounted package for a Wallbox charger, installation and financing options.
The companies said in a joint statement that if the pilot is successful it will be rolled out nationally as well as in Canada and other parts of the world. The exact size of the discount was not disclosed.
“Climate is a team sport and Uber is committed to doing our part to expedite the transition to zero-emissions mobility,” Andrew MacDonald, Uber senior vice president of mobility and business operations, said. “Making electric vehicle charging solutions available at scale is essential to achieving our goals and we are excited to partner with Wallbox on this mission.”
The Wallbox Pulsar Plus is the smallest EV charger available for in-home use in the U.S., the company said, and can be used to charge nearly every electric vehicle on the market today, including Teslas.
The Pulsar Plus retails for $649 on Amazon. It features 240-volt Level 2 charging technology with up to 40 amps of power (variable to allow the user to decide how much power is needed) that charges a vehicle seven times faster than a Level 1 charger, the company said. It connects to smart devices through the myWallbox app for monitoring of charging status.
“Demand for EVs is rapidly increasing here in the U.S. To help accelerate the transition to more sustainable transportation, we need to continue to make charging accessible,” Douglas Alfaro, general manager for Wallbox North America, said. “Uber is a tech company at the heart of transport here in California, so it was natural for us to team up with them to give drivers using the platform access to smart at-home solutions.”
Earlier this year, California announced the nation’s first vehicle electrification plan for transportation network companies (TNCs). The California Air Resources Board (CARB) finalized the Clean Miles Standard in May. The rule stipulates that 2% of all TNC trips must be in electric vehicles by 2023 and that ramps up to 13% by 2025, 50% by 2027 and 90% by 2030.
In its letter submitted to CARB prior to the meeting, Uber argued that CARB’s assumption on driver adoption of EVs is unrealistic.
“Assuming the EMFAC model (provided by CARB) has correctly predicted the number of EVs available each year through 2030, there should be approximately 650,000 EVs available in 2030. 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,” the letter stated.
The company said the ability of TNCs to attract 50% of all EV owners in the state into the service is not achievable.
Uber, Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) and any other TNC company operating in the state have until January 2022 to submit two-year plans to begin meeting the regulation.
Electric vehicles account for roughly 2% of new vehicle sales in the U.S. Ford (NYSE: F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM) are among the automakers moving to electric-vehicle lineups.