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Uber drivers will now have access to rented Teslas, but can they afford them?

Tesla car
Tesla car   -   Copyright  AFP
By Maeve Campbell  & Tina Bellon  with Reuters - US Online Report Technology

Uber drivers will have access to 50,000 Tesla vehicles by 2023, as part of a new partnership between the ride hailing app and rental car company Hertz in the US.

Drivers can rent a Tesla through Hertz starting on 1 November in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Washington DC, with the programme later this year expanding to cities nationwide.

The Tesla rentals, consisting mostly of the electric vehicle company's Model 3 sedan, will be available exclusively to Uber drivers and start out at $334 (€287) a week, including insurance and maintenance. Uber said the rental cost would drop to $299 (€257) per week or lower as the programme extends in the coming year.

The company has vowed to operate only electric vehicles on its US, Canadian and European platform by 2030, and worldwide by 2040.

Uber's announcement comes just days after Hertz on Monday said it would order 100,000 Tesla vehicles by the end of 2022. News of the biggest-ever Tesla order led to a share price rally and saw the company's market value surpass $1 trillion (€860 billion).

Wednesday's deal represents Uber's most significant step so far in expanding the use of EVs on its platform. The company has vowed to operate only electric vehicles on its US, Canadian and European platform by 2030, and worldwide by 2040.

Canva
Uber drivers in the US will be able to rent electric Teslas from November 2021.Canva

Can Uber drivers afford to drive Teslas?

But only a few ride-hail drivers can afford the higher EV sticker prices and in 2019, only 0.15 per cent of all Uber miles in the US and Canada were driven in electric vehicles, company data showed.

Ride-hail drivers produce more pollution per passenger-mile travelled because they spend more than a third of their time driving around empty. Researchers generally assume that electrifying one journey reduces the same amount of CO2 as converting three regular gas-powered vehicles.

Hertz, which is emerging from bankruptcy, hopes the EV focus will allow the once-dominant brand to stand out against competitors.

Carmakers also consider partnerships with ride-hail companies as a convenient way to expose more consumers to non-fuel-powered vehicles.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.