The rapid growth of transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft, Uber and Ride Austin creates a unique opportunity for vehicle electrification, with benefits to cities, drivers and riders. In New York and San Francisco, TNC and cab rides account for 19 percent of all local vehicle miles traveled during weekdays. If half of these TNC drivers went electric, they would offset 1.5 billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year and improve local air quality within the city.
In addition to these environmental benefits, electric vehicles are also significantly cheaper to operate than gas vehicles, despite having a higher upfront price tag. This can be attributed to savings in fuel and maintenance, which scale by how much the vehicle is driven. Highly active TNC drivers are ideal candidates for EVs because they put more miles on their car each year than the average driver. Based on our calculations, full-time TNC drivers working 50 hours a week can save an average of $5,200 per year in total vehicle expenses with an EV as compared to a typical gas vehicle.
The mobility team at Rocky Mountain Institute has been targeting high-utilization vehicles for electrification, as they demonstrate the best economics for EV operation and the highest potential for carbon offset. For the past two years, RMI has partnered with the City of Austin, Texas, to support its mobility goals toward developing shared, electric and autonomous mobility services. Austin offers unique EV charging programs that further bolster the economic savings of driving an electric vehicle.