Uber Australia (NYSE: UBER ) has initiated a strategic partnership with Chinese automaker Build Your Dreams (SHE:002594) and EVDirect, BYD (SZ: 002594 )'s official distributor in Australia, in an ambitious plan to add 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet. The move forms part of Uber's broader strategy to transition into a zero-emissions platform by 2040.
The partnership provides flexible financing options for drivers, addressing the high upfront cost that has previously deterred two-thirds of them from switching to EVs. The first available model under this initiative is the BYD Atto 3, with more models expected to be introduced in the future.
On Wednesday, Dom Taylor, General Manager of Uber Australia and New Zealand, stated that EVs accounted for over 1.2 million Uber rides in Q3 2023. This significant increase from less than 100 EVs on the platform in 2021 to around 2,400 today demonstrates a growing willingness among drivers to adopt low-emission vehicles.
EVDirect CEO Luke Todd, who collaborated with Uber for four months to secure these vehicles, sees the program as a potential turning point for Australia's transport sector. Todd suggested that the switch to EVs could lead to cost savings due to their lower operational costs. He also noted that rising fuel prices make it an opportune time for drivers to consider transitioning to EVs.
In addition to this partnership, Uber launched Comfort Electric, its first all-electric ride-share service initially available for business customers in six Australian cities. The company plans to expand this service and has introduced a "sustainability insights dashboard" on its app to enable corporate users to monitor their carbon emissions.
However, the push towards EVs has raised environmental concerns due to lithium mining, which is essential for EV batteries. Lithium extraction consumes large amounts of water and often involves groundwater draining, potentially depriving drought-affected or arid regions of vital water resources for an extended period.
This initiative comes as the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reported that more than 65,000 new electric cars were bought in Australia this year, a significant increase from just over 21,000 in 2022.
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