Researchers at RMI, a non-profit energy consultancy, analyzed 101 million miles traveled by ride-hailing drivers, and found that many in Los Angeles lack charging stations in the low-income neighborhoods they serve. This pattern could skew the benefits of EVs to wealthier enclaves.
In a new report, EV Charging for All, the authors suggest that electrifying ride-hailing fleets, as Uber and Lyft have pledged to do, combined with coordinated investment, could accelerate an equitable transition to EVs by bringing fast charging stations to low-income neighborhoods.
The researchers found that most public fast charging stations are in or near high-income areas, where early adopters of EVs tend to live—but this is not necessarily where ride-hailing vehicles do business. The uneven distribution of chargers causes electric ride-hailing vehicles to avoid low-income communities, which may become pockets of gas vehicles and the resulting tailpipe pollution.
California’s recently-approved Clean Miles Standard will require ride-hailing fleets to electrify 90 percent of miles served by 2030.
The RMI report estimates how many chargers will be required, and where they should be deployed, to support ride-hailing fleet electrification. It also explores the economic viability of a DC fast charging network customized to the needs of ride-hailing drivers.
“Ride-hailing services provide a unique opportunity to help build a fast-charging network that is not only financially sustainable, but also provides inclusive access to charging in currently underserved areas,” said EJ Klock-McCook, an RMI principal and one of the authors of the report.
“When policy priorities, climate needs, and the needs of lower-income individuals align with the economics of building and operating infrastructure, it’s a recipe for rapid change,” says Dave Mullaney, a principal on RMI’s Carbon-Free Mobility team.