Ride-share drivers will be given quick access to 10,000 electric vehicles as part of a deal between Uber and BYD that is designed to boost the number of low-emission cars in Australia.
The partnership, revealed on Wednesday, will see BYD Atto 3 electric vehicles offered to ride-share and food delivery drivers on flexible loans, and comes as the tech firm launches its first all-electric ride-share service in Australia.
If adopted by drivers, the deal could have a significant impact on the number of electric vehicles in Australia as the figure would represent more than a month of new EV sales.
Uber Australia and New Zealand managing director Dom Taylor said the company had been investigating ways to help drivers buy low-emission vehicles since 2021, with a goal to become a zero-emissions platform by 2040.
In that time, he said, the number of electric vehicles on Uber’s Australian platform had risen from fewer than 100 cars to more than 2400, but high prices and low supplies continued to slow progress.
“We asked drivers did they want to make the transition to EV and two thirds said yes but only 19 per cent believed their next car was going to be an EV,” he said.
“It was because of the high up-front cost associated with the car.”
Mr Taylor said the uptake of electric cars in Australia allowed Uber to launch its first service solely for electric vehicles, called Comfort Electric, but it would only be available for business customers initially.
The service would be launched more widely, he said, when more electric cars had been added to the platform.
“We’re a touch under two per cent (of kilometres travelled in electric vehicles) and we need that to be 100 per cent by 2040 and that’s why we need to invest,” he said.
“We think the next five years is going to be a key period for the uptake of EVs here in Australia.”
Luke Todd, chief executive of EVDirect that distributes BYD vehicles, said the company had worked with Uber over four months to secure 10,000 cars for drivers and offer them in long-term or flexible loans.
He said adding so many electric cars to the network could make a big change to Australia’s transport mix.
“This will hopefully be seen as an opportunity for more Uber drivers to save money, to transition to a cleaner, more sustainable transport option, and also offer passengers a better experience,” he said.
“This is the game-changing moment where you’ll be seeing more EVs and hopefully more EVs on Uber than what you do petrol vehicles.”
Australian motorists have bought more than 65,000 new electric cars this year, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, up from more than 21,000 during the same period in 2022.
But the nation continues to lag other countries in low-emission transport, with electric vehicles representing 14 per cent of new cars worldwide in 2022 but only 3.8 per cent in Australia.
(Australian Associated Press)