Ride-share drivers are turning to renting or buying electric vehicles. The move, which was being done to help combat high prices for gas at the pump, is turning into higher tips for some drivers as well.
What Happened: Uber driver Heidi Barnes upgraded from a 2009 Toyota Camry from Toyota Motors TM to a Tesla Model 3 from Tesla Inc TSLA as her ride-share vehicle.
The move was done by using a program between Uber Technologies Inc UBER and Hertz Global Holdings HTZ that allows Uber drivers the ability to rent a Tesla 2021 or 2022 model for $334 a week.
Barnes told Bloomberg recently that the cost of gas for her vehicle went from $60 a day to over $100, cutting into the profits she made driving for Uber. The higher price of gas pushed Barnes to a Tesla, a vehicle she had thought about getting last summer.
“It was a huge push to get into a Tesla sooner rather than later,” Barnes said.
In the first week with the Tesla, Barnes said she was paying around $450 (rental and charging) for “the car of the dreams” instead of $600 for gas in her Camry. Barnes quickly saw her extra earnings cover the cost of the Tesla rental.
Along with lower costs with no gas needed, Barnes also saw an increase in her tips thanks to the new Tesla vehicle.
“They’re a lot more generous,” Barnes said. “Usually I’m lucky to get $1 to $3 tips, but it’s now $10 or $15, sometimes consecutively.”
In a 25-day period renting the Tesla and driving for Uber, Barnes netted over $2,600 according to the report, which is more than double the $800 to $1,000 she typically was earning with the Toyota Camry.
Why It’s Important: A report from Gridwise, an app that helps gig workers manage their trips, shows that from May to June the amount of drivers in Tesla vehicles was up 186% month-over-month.
Uber advertises on its site that drivers could save $50 to $100 a week by switching to an electric vehicle. Drivers also get an extra $1 on every Uber trip they take with an electric vehicle, up to $4,000, under a zero emissions incentive. Tesla vehicles also qualify as Uber Comfort Trips.
Uber reports that since launching a partnership with Hertz in November for Tesla rentals, over 15,000 drivers have signed up to rent a Tesla.
“Participation has been really compelling,” Uber’s public policy manager for sustainability Adam Gromis said. “Drivers are smart and they know how to maximize their take-home pay.”
Rival Lyft Inc LYFT does not currently offer financial incentives for its drivers to switch to electric vehicles, according to Bloomberg. A Lyft spokesman said it has seen an increase of electric vehicle usage by drivers, with the number of EV drivers up 27% in the first quarter. The spokesman cited Tesla and Kia as the dominant brands for electric vehicle drivers with Lyft.
Photo: Courtesy of uber.com
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