Here's why so many Uber trips in Vancouver are with Tesla drivers

May 22 2023, 5:00 pm

Vancouver has an electric obsession with Teslas. It feels like the vehicles are everywhere, and they are not just being driven by the high-society or the business elite.

In the last two months, the majority of ride-hailing trips I have taken have been in electric vehicles, and 9 out of 10 are in a Tesla. I know this because I still can’t figure out how to open the doors.

“It’s no surprise that you’ve seen so many electric vehicles on the Uber platform in Vancouver,” Uber spokesperson Laura Miller told me. “In fact, Vancouver is the number one city in North America when it comes to the percentage of electric vehicle kilometres driven on Uber.”

Well, it turns out there’s a very good reason why it seems like more and more ride-hailing drivers are rocking these vehicles in the city and leaving many locals and tourists surprised.

Last year, Vancouver was the only Canadian city to have Uber roll out its new Comfort Electric program, which allows riders to pick a Tesla, Polestar, or Ford Mustang Mach-E as their preferred ride. It comes with an additional cost, but the company says customers still like it.

Why Vancouver and not the rest of the country? The company says Vancouver benefits from climate leaders at the municipal and provincial levels.

And while I don’t choose to pay the extra money to ride in the Comfort Electric class (in this economy?!?) I still end up in an EV, which might have a lot to do with that aforementioned push from governments to move away from fossil fuels.

There are rebates from Ottawa and BC if you buy electric, and while they can put a lot of cashback in your pocket, they don’t extend to everyone.

Those rebates (which used to be about $9,000) no longer apply to all Tesla vehicles, according to the website, nor to anyone who makes more than $100,000 per year.

Read more about which vehicles are eligible for the rebates here.

But there are still some major financial perks outside of government initiatives.

One of them is to the tune of $10,000, which a driver could claim after two years if they transition to any EV, thanks to Uber’s Zero Emissions Incentives, which kicked in earlier this year.

Plus, qualifying drivers can get $1 extra per trip provided up to a maximum of $4,000 a year and receive $250 for the first 1,000 rideshare trips within a three-month Uber Pro Program Period.

Don’t want to buy? You can now rent electric as well.

Uber has recently partnered with rental company Hertz, which allows drivers to sign up to rent Teslas on a weekly basis for about $500 in three major cities in the country, including Vancouver. It saves on overall costs, the company says and also offers a bit of a try-before-you-buy perk which sure cushions the cost of buying outright as the starting price could set you back $60,000.

The company says it has seen a major increase in former gas-driving motorists getting behind the wheel of an EV through the program, with more than 80% of them having never driven an EV before.

Uber also offers drivers programs that help them set up charging stations in their homes through discounted packages from Wallbox, further incentivizing the switch apparently.

What do you think of the Tesla and EV dominance in Vancouver? Let us know in the comments below.

Claire FentonClaire Fenton

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