Electric vehicles are a critical part of transitioning to more sustainable transport systems in line with global climate goals. However, a major electrification opportunity often gets overlooked: Efforts to electrify transport can accelerate their impact by focusing on intensively used vehicles, including vehicles on ride-hailing platforms like Uber and Lyft. This opportunity is often missed by policies and programs that focus on commercial fleets, much to the detriment of the personal vehicles that largely make up ride-hailing fleets. In the United States, Europe and Canada, the share of electric vehicles among vehicles used for ride-hailing is often lower than the share in the overall vehicle stock.

Finding ways to electrify ride-hailing fleets could reduce emissions and support the development of essential electric vehicle charging infrastructure in a more equitable way, since ride-hailing drivers tend to come from the lower half of the income distribution.

WRI has conducted research and developed recommendations to help cities and governments take advantage of the opportunity that electric ride-hailing offers to accelerate emissions reductions and reach more communities. Additionally, WRI is actively exploring other opportunities for research and pilot projects on electric ride-hailing.

WRI’s work to date on electric ridehailing consists primarily of research, including Electrifying Ride-Hailing in the United States, Europe, and Canada: How to Enable Ride-Hailing Drivers to Switch to Electric Vehicles. This paper identifies the largest barriers that prevent ride-hailing drivers from accessing EVs and analyzes ways that governments, industry and other stakeholders can tackle those barriers. It includes scorecards for 10 U.S., European and Canadian cities on their progress toward dismantling these barriers, using an original WRI methodology and data from Uber.

This research highlights three key areas of focus. First, it is essential to reduce high up-front costs and increase access to affordable financing, with a focus on equity and high-mileage use cases. Second, decision-makers can make charging more affordable and convenient through overnight solutions in under-served areas and urban fast-charging. Finally, educating drivers on electric vehicle ownership and benefits can improve uptake. Priority actions include improving the targeting of electric vehicle purchase subsidies, installing more 350-kilowatt chargers and overnight charging facilities for renters or residents of multiunit buildings, revising pricing structures for fast charging, and tailoring ride-hailing apps to support drivers with electric vehicles.

WRI seeks to expand on these recommendations through continued engagement with policymakers, communities and other stakeholders.

A graphic depicting the share of EVs in a city, compared to the number registered on Uber and the number of miles driven.


To better understand the motivating factors behind new mobility choices, NUMO, the New Urban Mobility Alliance, which is hosted by WRI, has partnered with University of California, Davis, and University of Leeds to conduct a behavioral research study. The study will use data collected through a survey of ride-hailing users, coupled with actual trip data. The survey is designed to gather demographics and behaviors of users to generate insights into why people try new modes, with the goal of leveraging these insights to motivate people to choose more sustainable modes of transportation over their cars. Data collection is underway as of spring 2022.

Cover image credit: Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash