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The Dam Is Breaking

Evdam Dump Top

If the reveal of an electrified, hybrid Chevy Corvette didn’t already persuade you this morning, the world is electrifying. It’s doing it fast. The normal barriers are disappearing. We’re going to look at four stories from just the last 24 hours that build a case for a world trying to electrify as fast as possible.

Exhibit A: The EU Is Trying To Counter US Electrification Rules As Fast As Possible

Eu Body

It’s not a secret that the Europeans have been upset with the United States for passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which makes building electric cars and their batteries in North America basically a requirement to be competitive. Fail to do that, the law says, and your cars probably won’t qualify for EV tax credits in America, and could thus become uncompetitive. Quelle tristesse.

For all the talk of how dysfunctional the American system of government currently is it can move fast if it so desires. The European Union, on the other hand, is run by a highly deliberative body that sits atop numerous bureaucracies that range in manner from France’s laxly organized civil service to Germany’s technocracy. Change can be slow.

After watching numerous automakers announce battery plants in the United States, the EU is moving to speed things up lest they lose out on a generational change. A lot of this is detailed in this Associated Press piece (“EU leaders discuss subsidies to counter Biden’s green, EV plans”) and I’d like to highlight the reactions from European leaders especially:

“We need to send a strong message that we will act to safeguard our industrial base. It is crucial that the EU remains an attractive place to invest, innovate and produce,” EU Council President Charles Michel said Monday in Stockholm.

And when French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire strode into EU headquarters in Brussels soon after, he let it be known.

“We need a shock,” he said, to simplify the EU’s subsidy approval rules. They force companies to struggle through arcane state aid regulations for too long to obtain the investments needed for cutting-edge breakthroughs, he said.

This is key. Even if the EU poured a ton of money into subsidies, as they seem willing to do, accessing these subsidies is much harder than in the United States. Clearing this barrier would be a huge boon to industry and research.

Exhibit B: Ford Is Backing Off VW EV Partnership

Vwmeb

When two automakers share a platform it typically means that the profits and volume they expect for this vehicle do not justify complete ownership. Ford, for instance, is unlikely to ever share the F-150 with another automaker. Toyota and BMW, though, are fine to save costs by developing the relatively low-volume Supra and Z4 together. It can also mean that one automaker partner doesn’t have the requisite capabilities needed to produce a vehicle. And sometimes it’s both.

A few years ago, Volkswagen and Ford agreed that they’d make two new small EVs using Volkswagen’s MEB platform (the same one that underpins the VW ID.Buzz and ID.4). That car isn’t even out yet and Ford’s already reportedly jumping from the deal, at least according to German trade pub Automobilwoche (story via Automotive News) :

After launching two new all-electric EVs based on VW Group’s MEB electric-only architecture, Ford will use its own technology for future electric cars.

VW’s MEB platform was a transitional technology for Ford and using it saved the company at least two years of development time, Martin Sanders, Ford’s e-car development manager in Europe, told Automotive News sister publication Automobilwoche.

Ford is spending $2 billion to convert its factory in Cologne, Germany, to build two MEB-based cars, while ending production of the long-running Fiesta hatchback there.

When automakers take their ball and go home, you know the ball has value.

Exhibit C: Hertz Wants To Rent 25,000 Electric Cars To Uber Drivers

Polestar Euuber

Increasingly, if I’m getting picked up by an Uber or a Lyft it’s a Tesla that’s coming to get me. In Europe, that’s about to be the case as Hertz and Uber announced they’d extend their U.S. program of renting EVs to drivers across the Atlantic Ocean. From their press release:

The partnership is a key element of Hertz’s strategy to build one of the largest fleets of rental EVs in the world and Uber’s industry-leading commitment to become a zero emissions platform in Europe and North America by 2030.

The partnership in North America has already benefited tens of thousands of drivers on the Uber platform. To date, nearly 50,000 drivers have rented a Tesla through this program, completing more than 24 million fully-electric trips and over 260 million electric miles.

The European expansion of the partnership will begin in Hertz Europe’s London base in January 2023 and aims to expand to other European capitals, such as Paris and Amsterdam, throughout the year and beyond. Further details will be announced in due course.

Despite talking about Teslas, their press shots show a Polestar 2.

Exhibit D: EV Charging Disproportionately In Wealthy, White Neighborhoods

Charger

To the surprise of absolutely no one, a report from Axios found that charging for electric cars was easier to find in whiter and wealthier neighborhoods:

Majority-white tracts are about 1.4 times as likely as majority-non-white tracts to have a charger, while tracts with chargers are about 1.14 times as wealthy as those without them, according to our analysis of the 35 U.S. cities with the highest share of EV sales nationwide.

The study looked at U.S. Census tracts and found that majority-white tracts in Philly, for instance, were 3.9 times as likely to have charging stations as non-white tracts. This isn’t universal. Dallas and San Francisco had a relatively equal distribution of chargers.

While the content of the study is entirely unsurprising, the existence of the study itself is noteworthy. EVs have long been the easy playthings of the wealthy, but the concern over the democratization of charger access shows there’s at least a desire to see this change.

The Flush

What was your last Uber or Lyft? What was your last rental car?

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How Much Of Your Car Data Are You Willing To Give To Google?

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50 Responses

  1. never used Uber or Lyft..

    last rental was a Toyota Starlet in South Africa, 5sp manual. It appears to be a rebranded Suzuki Baleno, built in India. The engine compartment looks like a throwback to the 80s or earlier, tiny 4-cylinder engine occupying about half the available space. It would be lovely to work on..
    Excellent automotive appliance, carried 3 of us and bags over 2100km getting about 16.9 km/l which is roughly 39 mpg. That included quite a bit of city driving. Sufficient power, made all the corners I pointed it at on some wonderful mountain roads.

  2. Last Uber I had I was drunk as hell and don’t remember the experience other than I got to where I needed to with no issues lol. Last car I rented was actually with Turo, it was a 2013 C250, and although the thing had a headlight out and was leaking oil onto the cat (so it was a little smoky lol), the experience itself was great! The dude I rented from was very helpful, on time, communicative, and understanding. Now I have heard Turo horror stories, but yeah, my own personal experience was pretty great, especially for the price! Now, if I would have rented a more expensive car, yes I would have expected the headlight to not be out and it to not be leaking oil, but hell, for the price, I can’t complain, wasn’t my problem lol.

  3. “tracts with chargers are about 1.14 times as wealthy as those without them”

    I’m actually shocked the wealth disparity isn’t greater than that. Are you sure the decimal place is in the right spot? 😉

    1. Oh, and I forgot to answer the last question.

      Last Uber was a Lime scooter, which I won’t be in a huge hurry to do again. I’m too old to be riding tiny wheels on potholed streets. My injuries don’t heal as fast as they used to.

      Last rental was a Camry. Other than the rental office at a nearly abandoned regional airport being a shitshow, it was a great road trip car. The interior felt at least current, in contrast to the last Camry rental we had, and it got terrific mileage even at interstate speeds. We had to stop more often due to our bladder capacity than our fuel capacity.

  4. No Uber or Lyft here, just don’t feel like psuedo taxi’s are an overall good thing. Rental Car was a Chrysler Voyager, did not even know they made them, it was a low rent Pacifica in the end. which was not that bad either.

    1. I am with you 100%.
      I did take an Uber through the Bronx back in August after my train was rerouted and I was miles away from a meeting. It was probably a Honda Pilot or something. Previous occasion was going to an airport in 2018.

  5. The Flush: I never use Uber or Lyft because they have an unsustainable and unethical business model
    And my last rental was a car I rented in Europe… an Opel Crossland with the 1.2L 3cyl turbo gas engine (128HP) and 6-speed automatic from a car rently company called USave.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opel_Crossland#Facelift

    It was okay. Definitely more powerful than my Honda Fit. But the handling didn’t feel as ‘confident’ as my Fit. The car wasn’t fancy, but it was comfortable and had more space than we needed.
    And it used about 30L of fuel to go between 470-500km of driving… mostly on the autobahn and holding it to 120-130km/h. And that translates to 6-6.3L/100km… which is about the same fuel economy as my manual Fit.
    And that level of fuel economy is impressive given the combo of automatic, the additional 18hp and the fact that it sits a bit higher than my Fit.

    The total cost for renting the car over the 5 days I was using it was about CAD$400… including the cost of fuel, highway tolls and tax.

  6. My last Uber or Lyft was over three years ago and I don’t remember what it was. The most memorable one I had was a guy in a late 2000s double cab tacoma. I remember it because I always wondered how the guy was breaking even on something as thirsty as a Tacoma for rideshare.

    My last rental was a 2020 Audi A7 that I got as an (included) rental while my car was at the shop for bodywork. It drove nice, had good passing power, and the liftback was convenient as well. I never got used to the lack of keyless entry on a car that cost nearly $70k though; it’s such an expensive car that it always felt weird to me that they made it an optional feature. Heck, my grandfather’s 2015 prius has keyless entry, and its a lower trim model with cloth seats.

  7. Not my last rental, but possibly the strangest.
    A VW Polo rented in the UK with a huge “European Car of the Year” sticker in the rear window (Google tells me it must have been in 2010 or 2011).
    It was one of the most underwhelming cars I have ever driven.

  8. I travel for a living – I use Uber and Lyft several times a week and I rent several cars every month from Hertz. My rideshare (Lyft/Uber) experiences have been almost universally good, which I cannot say about cab rides in the bad old days. Uber and Lyft now have to approve the cars used by their drivers andthe rating system keeps everyone civil. From the comments it looks like most of the Autopian readers represented here dont do much traveling. I’m also a rental scooter fan in large cities – yeah, I’m a 50 year old dude, so it may look funny, but I’m a skiier and a mountain biker, so the scooter doesn’t scare me like some of your readers. I’ve also used turo, but after the additional fees and the PIA of coordinating pickup and dropoff with an individual, it’s not really worth it for me.

  9. My last 3 Ubers were a Niro EV, Model 3, and a lowered ISF that was way too uncomfortable.

    My last rental was a Chevy Impala for work. Honestly wasn’t that bad of a ride as it was comfy, quiet, had good passing power and CarPlay worked flawlessly. It’s a good time to be in rideshare or rentals.

  10. Used Uber several times last month in Las Vegas. Nissan Altima, Prius, and a couple Model 3s. All drivers were courteous and all but one did it full time. Altima was a little rough, but also used for Amazon 4 hour package delivery (you think Uber treats their drivers poorly). Took one cab on New Year’s Eve when Uber’s demand pricing made the cabs reasonable, Chrysler Town and Country that had been beat to death and was worst maintained of all vehicles we rode in.

    Rent a vehicle two to four times a month. I exclusively use Enterprise as their people tend to very customer oriented and they have an office in my town. Vehicles tend to be mid-size with the last being a Toyota Camary (might of been an upgrade). Enterprise keeps their vehicles into the 30k miles and I use the rentals as an opportunity to see how the vehicles age when driven by users that don’t care about how they treat the vehicles. Interesting how many times the start stop function no longer works. During COVID the whole rental fleet really took a beating and had a couple vehicles with 40k plus miles. One was a Pacifica and impressed with how few rattles there were and the general state of the interior.

  11. I haven’t installed Uber or Lyft apps.
    Last rental was a Wrangler Sport 4 door. Family found it uncomfortable to the point of swelling and bruising from impacts getting in or out. The only time it did anything a sedan couldn’t was when it didn’t get stuck in soft sand I only drove into because it was a Jeep.

    1. Even if you had a cell phone, either service would require you install the app on your phone and give more companies access to your data. No thanks.

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