With the London Congestion Charge claiming more and more of on-demand drivers’ income, and the ULEZ charging zone expanding, drivers are starting to seriously consider upgrading to electric PCO cars. But first things first:
Can you use an electric car for Uber?
The short answer is yes. In fact, rideshare providers have started looking into incentives to speed up the transition and make it easier for drivers to make the switch to zero-emission cars with Uber having launched their Clean Air Plan, Bolt announcing a Zero Emission Transition pilot, and more on-demand driving apps expected to jump on the bandwagon.
However, there are lots of misconceptions around EV technology, suggesting that electric cars aren’t good for Uber driving. We looked into nine of the most common urban legends to see what’s what and clear things up:
Myth #1 – There’s nowhere to charge an EV if you drive Uber
Most electric car charging is done from home – although most of the time it’s slower than public charging stations, it’s also cheaper and more convenient to charge overnight. But if you live in an apartment building, it may seem there’s no way to charge your car. This is not the case, though.
There are thousands of new EV charging stations being installed all over London.
According to ZapMap, there are close to 40,000 public charge points in the UK across more than 14,000 locations, hundreds of new ones being installed every month. Although not as cost-effective as home charging, it’s still way cheaper than filling up with petrol or diesel.
How many EV charging points are there in London?
Myth #2: You have to charge an EV every day for Uber
On average, Uber drivers travel between 100-150 miles per day. Most new electric cars have at least a 160-mile range with a full battery, and several models go 280 miles or more on a single charge.
Unlike traditional cars, electric cars thrive in the city. While the constant low-revving, and short stop-and-go cycles harm a normal engine, electric motors don’t mind it at all – they’re built for it. Regenerative braking also charges the battery, so you can actually drive more in the city than on a motorway.
So it depends a lot on the make and model, as well as your driving style, but most modern electric cars go more than one full day of Uber driving.
Myth #3 – EV batteries don’t last and they lose their range
EV batteries have proven to be more robust than initially thought. A recent study by Kia found that battery packs installed in the Soul models have lost just over 1% of their total battery capacity on average over three years.
Most electric cars come with a battery warranty of at least 7 years or 100,000 miles, and replacement costs are comparable to that of swapping the clutch on a petrol car.
Myth #4 – EVs aren’t good for Uber in the UK due to the cold weather
During winter days you should estimate losing 5-8% of your electric car’s range. This is similar to what you’d see with a petrol car in winter, as it also consumes significantly more until the engine warms up.
Electric cars also give you a more accurate range prediction, as well as a map of the charging stations nearby, so there’s no risk of suddenly running out of charge while you’re driving Uber.
Myth #5 – EVs take too long to charge for Uber drivers
Home charging is indeed slower, and can take up to 10 hours to fully charge a car. This is best done overnight while you’re sleeping – it might also be cheaper depending on your contract with the power supplier.
If you need a quick charge between Uber trips you can use a public charging station which gives you an 80% range in just over half an hour – same as your smartphone.
Myth #6 – EV cars are slower than petrol cars
Electric cars don’t have gearboxes, because they can produce maximum torque at all revs. This means instant, rapid acceleration without losing momentum and wasting energy between gear changes. Most electric cars outperform the equivalent petrol car 0-60mph easily. Overall, it means you can provide your Uber riders with a smoother trip in an EV.
Myth #7 – EV cars are too expensive for Uber
Electric cars are indeed more expensive if you want to pay upfront. However, there are numerous incentives in place that make it more affordable to own an electric car:
- Rideshare platform incentives such as Uber’s Clean Air Fund and Bolt’s Zero Emission Transition pilot make it cheaper every week to own an electric PCO car with Splend
- A daily saving on the Congestion Charge of £15
- A minimum saving of £30 per week on fuel costs
- Less moving parts translates into less maintenance. Forget oil changes, filters, flywheels, the entire ignition and exhaust system, and due to the regenerative braking you can even save on brakes as you won’t use them as much
Myth #8 – You can’t charge an EV in the wet
Water and electricity normally don’t mix well, but nor do electric wires and flammable liquids – and still, we’ve been using that combination safely for decades. Good-quality EV charging equipment is always insulated and waterproof, and undergoes a lot of testing before it becomes available to the public.
The area of concern is normally at home charging – and not where the charger plugs into the car, but the other end of the cord if it meets a poor-quality wall outlet, or worse, an extension cord that’s damaged, or has been tampered with. You can easily eliminate all these risks, though, if you have the outlet checked by an authorised electrician before plugging your car into it, and use a single good-quality, dedicated charging cable (which often comes with the car).
Myth #9 – EVs are worse for the environment than petrol cars
One common argument made against electric cars is that manufacturing and disposing of car batteries harms the planet. Another concern is that generating electricity also has a carbon footprint.
So EVs are not as clean as they’re being advertised. Not 100% harmless in any case. However,
petrol and diesel technology harms the environment all the way from the oil well to the exhaust pipe. By contrast, EVs don’t pollute while running, and the electricity you charge them with may come from a fully or partially renewable source.
Some groups claim that fossil fuel-based cars require up to 300 times more resources than electric cars when you factor in the need to drill for oil, refine it, and transport it around the globe. There’s not a lot to improve in the process either – oil is oil, and you need to burn it to gain the energy stored in it.
With demand for electric cars just starting to rise on a global scale, there’s more intense research going into the sustainable manufacturing, recycling, and safe disposal of the harmful materials associated with electric cars compared to the consumables and contaminated parts of traditional cars, so we’re likely to see further improvements in this regard in the near future.
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