Uber and Lyft have both revolutionized the way people commute to and from destinations in California. Known as “ridesharing”, these companies have a majority of the market share when it comes to people requesting a car ride. According to Zippia.com, Uber and Lyft account for 100% of the market share for ridesharing, with 71% belonging to Uber and the other 29% coming from Lyft. This amounts to over 93 million users a month for Uber and 18.6 million monthly users for Lyft.
As more and more people, especially in California’s larger cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, rely on these services to move around, the impact that these cars have on the environment is something that lawmakers have spent significant time and resources considering.
Thus, a proposal from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) placed a target of the year 2030 to have 100% of vehicle miles driven by Uber and Lyft to be in electric cars in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet these targets, Uber and Lyft have already begun experimenting and implementing electric vehicles into their fleets.
While there is not yet a requirement in California for Uber and Lyft vehicles to be electric in 2023, these companies are certainly on the path toward this goal.
Uber, Lyft and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
With a stranglehold on the rideshare market in California, Uber and Lyft are both in a unique position in terms of clean air and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Ridesharing has long been hailed as better for the environment, as it cuts down on the number of cars on the road by providing carpooling services.
Still, the sheer amount of Uber and Lyft drivers on the road in California means that GHG emissions are an ongoing issue. In order to build its proposal, CARB reviewed records from these rideshare services’ 1.4 millions miles of trips in 2018. In these records, they found that:
- Ridesharing accounted for 301 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per trip.
Couple this with GHG from other vehicles on the road in California, and the impact on the environment becomes clear.
That’s why the push for electric vehicles, especially for ridesharing services, has become such a dominant issue.
What Are Electric Vehicles?
While they have become more and more prevalent on California roads in recent years, electric vehicles are still a relatively new entity. These vehicles, which run on battery power rather than an internal-combustion engine that uses gasoline. As such, electric vehicles are much better for the environment in terms of GHG. But there are other factors that differentiate electric vehicles from their more traditional counterparts:
- Battery – In an electric vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to power vehicle parts and accessories. Also known as the “all electric auxiliary” battery, this device powers things like the car’s lights, internal displays and systems like the air conditioning, heater, audio and directional systems, and the vehicle’s horn.
- Motor – Probably the biggest difference between electric vehicles and gas-powered ones is that the motor that runs the vehicle’s wheels comes from the battery’s electric power. Some electric vehicles have generators that perform the car’s drive and other functions.
- Transmission – The transmission in an electric vehicle transfers mechanical power from the motor to drive the wheels.
- Charging port – Like other electronic devices, an electric vehicle has a charge port that allows for external charging of the battery.
- DC/DC converter – Electric vehicles must convert higher voltage direct current (DC) power into lower-voltage power to run the vehicles functions and accessories. In order to do this, they have a DC/DC converter that takes the initial DC charge from the battery and converts it to a lower voltage.
- Onboard charger – Electric vehicles also have an onboard charger that takes the incoming alternate current (AC) electricity supplied via the charge port and converts it to DC power for charging the traction battery. This device also maintains the charging equipment, making sure to monitor characteristics like charge level, voltage, current, and temperature.
- Power electronics controller – This device is vital to an electric vehicle, as it controls the amount of electricity that is delivered by the battery. It also controls the power generated by the motor, as well as the torque.
- Cooling system – An electric vehicle’s cooling system maintains a proper operating temperature range for the engine, motor, power electronics, and other components of the vehicle.
- Traction battery pack – An electric vehicle has several auxiliary battery options, including a traction battery pack. This device stores the electricity needed to run the motor of the vehicle.
Risks Associated With Electric Vehicles in California
As with any motor vehicle, there are risks that come with driving–or riding in an Uber or Lyft–in California. While electric vehicles are much cleaner for the environment, they are not without their drawbacks, especially in the event of an accident.
- Battery heat – Obviously, electric vehicles have primary and auxiliary battery systems that provide a great deal of power and electricity to actually power the vehicle. When in an accident, these devices can ignite, especially if the collision occurs near the front of the vehicle. Also, if there is a malfunction in the conversion equipment, these batteries can become much hotter than intended and catch on fire.
- Electrical fires – Generally speaking, electrical fires are much more common in electric vehicles than in gas-powered vehicles. This is because of the various power supplies and how it sends electricity to the motor and other parts of the car. In an accident, these systems could be damaged, on top of all the usual risks for fire in a car accident are present with electric vehicles.
- Autopilot – A feature prevalent on many electric vehicles–and now being included in most newer vehicles of all kinds–is self-driving, or autopilot feature. These systems take over control of the vehicle, which can obviously be very dangerous. Not only does it take your focus off operating the vehicle, but the system may malfunction and cause an accident.
Rideshare Law Office Can Help You
Being in an Uber or Lyft is certainly a convenient way to commute around California, and is much better for the environment. Even as these companies try to move more toward fully electric vehicles, the convenience that comes from being a passenger means that you effectively give up control of the vehicle and put your safety in the hands of another person. This can be a difficult situation, especially if there is an accident that injures you.
Whether you’ve been injured in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver as a passenger or while driving your own vehicle, Rideshare Law Office can help you understand your rights and options. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.