Like fast food and baseball, ridesharing is now an inescapable part of American culture. Some say this growing phenomenon is good for the environment, since it makes vehicle ownership less necessary. Others argue that ridesharing isn’t as green as we think it is; they point out that some studies suggest this mobility option may be reducing the number of people who avail themselves of greener alternatives such as cycling or taking the bus. One way to end the argument once and for all would be for rideshare companies to dramatically expand the number of zero-emission vehicles in their fleets, and this is an alternative that’s reportedly being considered by the city of Los Angeles.
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is said to be thinking about proposing laws that would create mandatory electric vehicle (EV) requirements for rideshare companies.
- These requirements could go a long way toward making ridesharing more sustainable and eco-friendly.
- Mandatory EV requirements would also help Los Angeles meet its aggressive climate targets.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Garcetti stated: “We have the power to regulate car share. We can mandate, and are looking closely at mandating, that any of those vehicles in the future be electric.”
Good for the environment
If cities like Los Angeles create mandatory EV requirements for rideshare companies, one big winner would be the environment. It’s estimated that there are 250,000 rideshare drivers in Los Angeles, and they make roughly nine million trips per year. According to the EPA, the average passenger vehicle emits about 404 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Creating laws that force rideshare companies to beef up the percentage of EVs in their fleets could have a huge impact on vehicle emissions. The government can’t force consumers to buy EVs (not yet, anyway). But many argue that it’s certainly reasonable for states to create laws that place requirements on rideshare companies that encourage EV adoption.
Creating mandatory EV requirements for rideshare companies could help reduce vehicle emissions. (Photo: prvideotv/Pixabay)
Hitting the target
Of course, in Los Angeles, these laws could also go a long way toward helping the city hit its ambitious climate targets. In 2018, Mayor Garcetti announced that Los Angeles had committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The target was a big step up from the previous commitment: an 80 percent reduction by the year 2050. If Garcetti is to make this bold goal a reality, he’ll need all the help he can get. Mandatory EV laws for rideshare companies would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Driving it home
Additionally, EVs bring certain benefits for rideshare drivers. The most notable advantage to choosing an EV over a gas-powered vehicle concerns operating expenses. Rideshare drivers who pilot EVs report that these green machines bring big reductions in fuel costs. These drivers also claim that their EVs have lower maintenance costs than comparable gas-powered vehicles. These benefits are compelling when you consider that, for rideshare drivers, fuel and maintenance expenses can take a significant bite out of total earnings. Many make less than $10 per hour after these costs are deducted.
According to some rideshare drivers, EVs are cheaper to operate than gas-powered vehicles. (Photo: Lyft)
A question of range
Of course, EVs aren’t without their drawbacks. From a ridesharing perspective, the most significant one to consider is driving range. In many cases, gas-powered vehicles can travel for much longer distances between fill-ups than EVs.
The range issue is is certainly an obstacle, but it’s not insurmountable. For one thing, many of today’s modern crop of EVs offer much longer range than their predecessors. The EPA notes that the 2020 Chevy Bolt can travel for a whopping 259 miles on a single charge. And when the Nissan Leaf was first introduced back in 2011, its range was a panic-inducing 73 miles. The Leaf has made big progress when it comes to driving range; the 2019 model is able to travel for up to 226 miles between charges.
WHY THIS MATTERS
All signs indicate that ridesharing is here to stay. We imagine that this transportation option will grow and evolve in the years to come. Cities can play a part in ensuring that this evolution unfolds in a way that promotes sustainability via the judicious creation of legislation.