Emerging policy approaches to electrify ride-hailing in the United States

Published: 2019.01.08
By

Peter Slowik, Nikita Pavlenko, Nic Lutsey

This briefing identifies emerging policy approaches to support the deployment of electric vehicles within ride-hailing fleets, with a focus on the United States. It discusses the adoption barriers unique to ride-hailing fleets and summarizes several policy approaches for states, cities, and utilities to accelerate the transition to electric shared mobility fleets.

Our examination reveals two high-level policy findings for electrifying ride-hailing fleets.

Policy tools can break down the prevailing barriers and accelerate electric ride-hailing. States have the authority to regulate the emissions performance of ride-hailing vehicles. Based on the prevailing barriers and technology developments, emissions requirements that essentially require hybrids by the early 2020s, then shift toward all electric vehicles through the mid-2020s, would be appropriate. Local governments can use their authority over curbside loading, curbside parking, transit-only lanes, and parking facilities in key locations to offer a competitive edge to electric shared vehicles. Cities with low-emission zones, zero-emission areas, and congestion pricing can prioritize access to electric shared vehicles. To ensure ride-hailing fleets are integrated into a broader mobility ecosystem that works for all, these policies would include a transit equity element.

A comprehensive charging infrastructure network will be critical for ride-hailing fleets to transition to all electric. New electric vehicles with 250-plus miles in electric range and fast-charging capabilities will be critical, but not a panacea. A robust charging ecosystem remains important to meet different ride-hailing drivers’ needs. To function best, optimally located charging infrastructure is needed, meaning near ride-hailing drivers’ homes, near dense urban areas where much of the driving occurs, near places where drivers naturally take breaks, and near major destinations such as airports. Ride-hailing companies have direct knowledge of vehicles and driving patterns and therefore can partner with utilities and charging providers to deploy high-utilization charging networks. Utilities also can establish preferential electric ride-hailing rates to ensure affordable electric charging. Public utility commissions could direct or give guidance for charging infrastructure investments to be aligned with state goals to electrify ride-hailing fleets.