In the race to electrify, Uber wants electric vehicles that sacrifice top speeds and wheels – TechCrunch
Time is running out for Uber to electrify its fleet, and the ride-sharing company wants automakers to help by designing cheaper electric vehicles for its drivers.
Lawmakers set deadlines for ride-sharing companies to ditch fossil fuels (including California’s Air Resources Board), and Uber has its own electrification deadlines, which range from 2025 to 2030. That’s all well and good, but the electric vehicles are still too expensive for most. people, including carpool drivers.
For example, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said Uber is in talks with automakers to build electric vehicles that sacrifice speed, or even a wheel or two, to lower the list price. The CEO didn’t name the specific automakers Uber apparently works with, but last year the company debuted focused carpooling prototype from the British car manufacturer Arrival.
“The top speeds of many cars are not necessary for city driving associated with carpooling,” Khosrowshahi said Thursday at a Wall Street Journal event. “We’re also talking about purpose-built vehicles” to deliver things like groceries, he added. “You can imagine smaller vehicles – two-wheelers, three-wheelers – that have boot space that can cut through traffic more easily and have a much smaller footprint, both in terms of environmental footprint and traffic, let’s say a car.”
The CEO also said the passenger area could change, with potentially “face-to-face” passengers. (The executive also didn’t say whether Uber would cover the detailed costs of motion sickness episodes, which I assume would trigger.)
When it comes to food and grocery delivery, Uber isn’t the only company seeing the potential in much smaller vehicles with fewer wheels. Even in markets like the United States, where auto rickshaws are not common, several companies have mooted the idea in recent years, including Arcimoto and ElectraMeccanica.
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