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The Dam Is Breaking

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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

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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:

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“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.

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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:

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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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PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
10 months ago

My last Lyft was a Chevy Impala. Smelled badly of cigarette smoke and antifreeze. Driver wouldn’t shut up. Suspension was floppy and loose, the engine was grumbly. I did notice his car had over 240,000 miles on it. You could tell it was a guy desperate to make ends meet. I had a coupon that made the trip almost free, I tipped him the full discount I received plus the 20% I would normally tip.
1/10, would not recommend.

My last Uber was also a Chevy Impala. Also smelled badly of cigarette smoke, even though there were huge “No Smoking” signs on all three of the passenger windows, the dashboard and the seatbacks. There were over 120,000 miles on this car. The driver didn’t respond to anything I said, but drove sanely and calmly, and the car performed as it should. Still, 1/10, would not recommend.

My last rental was a late model Hyundai Sonata. The Chevy Impala I expected was “out for cleaning”. The Hyundai smelled very fresh and clean. Totally different experience, but didn’t enjoy the car as much as I thought I would, and as a result, I’m not interested in any Hyundais that aren’t electric.

Not doing rideshares anymore unless desperate. If public transportation isn’t available, I’ll usually rent a car, even if I have to pay an extra “one-way” fee.

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
10 months ago

Exhibit D…has me a bit confused. Could somebody explain to me what is exactly “noteworthy” or in any way “shows there’s at least a desire to see this change.” ?

Shoot, I’ll work for that company and conduct all kinds of (duh, ya think?) studies. Like we can do one about the prevalence of hockey equipment sales in cold climates versus areas on the Mississippi Delta, or the availability of beach chairs for rent in areas near bodies of water versus high altitude craggy terrain. Heck, while we are at it we can do one on the shocking disparity in the availability of umbrellas in Nevada for people of Sweedish descent versus those who have access to Vegas casinos.
I know I’m a bit of a snark here, but are we really making EV infrastructure availability a race issue? Of course, there are gonna be more chargers in wealthy areas (and near highways, which are notoriously known for their bias ((just not that bias)). This study is a common sense supply and demand conclusion, that was looking to answer a question no one was really asking.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
10 months ago

I don’t know that I’ve ever had an Uber or Lyft. I know I’ve never had the app on my phone.
Last rental car was a Charger from National. Nice car.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
10 months ago

Last rental was a Honda HR-V, which they considered to be a full size vehicle. It is not. Our luggage that fit in the trunk of my wife’s Accord without incident completely obscured the rear window in the HR-V. It was also underpowered, cramped and sucked on fuel economy.

Last Uber was a Ford Escape.

Strangek
Strangek
10 months ago

Love the picture up top, lol! I take Ubers somewhat regularly, but I’ve never been picked up by an EV. I suppose there have been a few hybrids, but no full-on EVs. I’ve noticed a decline in the acceptable quality of Uber cars over the last year or so, I’ve been picked up in some real shit-boxes.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
10 months ago

Last Lyft was a Kia Soul in Indianapolis. It was roomy and the driver didn’t worry me. That’s about all there is to say.

Last rental was… jeez, when was the last time I rented a car? Probably a Nissan Versa. I kept getting stuck with them for a while, had like three in a row.

Conehead1978
Conehead1978
10 months ago

The barriers to electrification will always be the economic ones. Can it be done without robbing one taxpayer who can’t afford a new EV to buy one for the wealthy EV purchaser who could actually pay full freight?

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
10 months ago

My last Lyft was a Toyota Sienna minivan with a driver that didn’t know where he was going and didn’t have a hands free mount for his phone, so he held it in front of his face the entire ride.

My last rental car was a Kia Sorrento which was a nice upgrade from the tiny car corporate travel had me booked in since it ended up snowing a foot overnight.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
10 months ago

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

Last Lyft was last year coming back from Germany. Around here, it’s all airport work, so by default you expect a minivan or SUV. I got an older Honda Odyssey. Driver was very nice, ride was fine, cargo space was great. (Exactly what you need in an airport hauler.)

Last rental, I don’t know if I should disclose because people will get jealous, but fuck it.
IT’S A DACIA SANDERO!
Yep. I got my hands on the genuine fucking article.
And it was… uh… it was a Dacia Sandero. Which is to say, awful. When they claim the top speed is 98MPH, I’m pretty sure they’re exaggerating. Acceleration wasn’t and didn’t. The infotainment did neither. But the interior did at least have lots of room and materials weren’t unpleasant.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

oh man oh man oh man

I know it’s just a car, and solidly A Car in every respect, but I still wanna hoon a Sandero.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
10 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Stef, I assure you. NOBODY could hoon a stock Sandero with the CVT.
Well, I guess if you somehow got it into neutral and shoved it down an extremely steep hill or off a cliff you could sort of maybe?

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I’m a nobody. I’D DO IT.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
10 months ago

My last rental was a yellow, Mustang convertible. I was traveling to my grandmother’s funeral, and everyone in my family gave me crap for not putting the top down for the funeral procession to the cemetery.

Outofstep
Outofstep
10 months ago

“What was your last Uber or Lyft?”

So I’ve never taken an Uber or Lyft and until last night hadn’t even downloaded the app and after last night I can honestly say that I won’t ever take one.

There was an unforeseen situation with my lady’s family. She needed to send an Uber for her sister and her card was compromised and she had a lot of other things to worry about. It was an emergency and she couldn’t pick her up and needed it ASAP. No problem I’ll take care of it. The fastest car available said it would be there in 10 minutes. Alright cool crisis averted. I leave my job about 25 minutes after ordering the ride. I get a call saying that the car hasn’t arrived yet. Okay that’s weird. I check and it now says 15 minutes away. Figure there’s a bit of traffic. I call the driver. He doesn’t answer. That’s not ideal. Oh I can message him. Cool, I message him. Nothing. I wait a few minutes and see that the message was read. Now we’re half an hour into this debacle and he hasn’t responded to me and his car hasn’t moved. I cancel it which for a newbie was not easy to figure out. Thank you Google! I go to order another car and the closest one is 13 minutes away. Did I mention that this was an emergency? Thankfully by this point I was about 5 minutes from where the sister was so I ended up picking her up and dropping her off before heading to my second job where I showed up late. I know it’s not Uber’s fault but also it is because it’s their service and this is a representative of their company. I never used it prior and I’ll never use it again after this fuckery. I was so pissed off. Sorry for the wall of text but I just needed to get it off my chest when I saw Uber.

Turbeaux
Turbeaux
10 months ago

I live in a rural area, so the only people driving ride-share are ones who aren’t so well-off. Last lyft was an altima with no AC that reeked of pot. The driver talked on her phone the whole trip

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
10 months ago

Last Uber was a clapped out Chevy Malibu making various concerning noises. The driver was nice though.

Last rental was a Fiat 500 hybrid. It was slow but not in a fun way and not particularly fun to drive in general but worked perfectly fine as a way to get around while I was on vacation.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
10 months ago

I don’t rent cars often — only when I travel for business and even then only when I can’t stay at a hotel within walking distance of my destination or bum a ride from a coworker — so my last rental was back in 2021. This was the height of the “rental car shortage” where the big rental car companies all sold off most of their fleets during the pandemic but travel was starting to bounce back before they had an opportunity to restock. I got one of the last cars on the lot, which happened to be a Dodge Challenger (with the stupid yellow splitter protectors still on!).

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
10 months ago

I’ve only used a ride share once: a Lyft in Las Vegas about 5 years ago. It was fine. I had a coupon so it only cost me the tip, if I recall correctly.

My last rental was a Tesla Model S through Turo. The rental process was great (as all my Turo experiences have been), but the car was unimpressive. It didn’t compare favorably to the much cheaper Hyundai Kona EV I rented a few months before that. If I could purchase the Kona or the Model S for the same price, I’d go for the Kona every time. As it is, I didn’t get either one – I recently decided to lease a Polestar 2 after test-driving one. I’ve driven a lot of EVs (and other cars) and the P*2 was hands-down the best overall driving experience I’ve ever had in any car, EV or otherwise (the steering could be a little tighter/more engaging, but that was the only weak point). Wonderful car and I look forward to leasing it and seeing what other options are available in the next 3 years.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
10 months ago

I finally got my first Tesla as an Uber recently. Usually I get a gray clapped-out Prius with cheap seat covers if I simply select “UberX”, but lately I’ve been springing for “Comfort” which is barely more expensive but generally provides better vehicles and better drivers. The Model 3 I rode in was fine (my only complaint was that I was too stupid to figure out the door handles, but the driver quickly helped me) — quiet and comfortable. The driver was friendly and talkative, which I usually don’t prefer, but his personality was nice on this relatively long ride. He talked about a lease scheme where drivers could rent Model 3s through Uber and quoted some numbers which we both agreed were shockingly high. He estimated the amount of driving one would have to do in order to hit the break-even point with the lease — I can’t remember the exact amount he quoted, but it sounded quite daunting to me. I’m not sure what the terms of the European lease program are, but it’s worth running the numbers very carefully to ensure that it’s a decent value proposition.

Ben
Ben
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

People who run the numbers to ensure it’s a decent value proposition are not, in general, Uber’s target driver market. Most of these gig jobs are not good value no matter how you do them.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
10 months ago
Reply to  Ben

You got that right. The staffing for these types of jobs is reliant on a whole bunch of people who are bad at math. Fortunately, that’s a renewable resource, so we’re in no danger of running out any time soon.

Geoff Dankert
Geoff Dankert
10 months ago

Last Uber was a Camry hybrid, which is SOP around here. Side note: I’ve never been in a Tesla, rideshare or otherwise.

Last rental was a “manager’s special” (mystery car) in Portland back in November. Wound up with a fun and completely-ridiculous-for-the-PNW Mustang Ecoboost convertible.

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
10 months ago

My last uber was a compact SUV, but I don’t remember the specifics.
I’m on long-term assignment, so I’ve had a rotating stock of monthly rentals since last summer. My current rental car is a Nissan Murano, which has probably been my favorite. My least favorite was an Outlander with a broken touchscreen that I was stuck in for 2 months. Avis promised to call when they had something else in. They never did, and I didn’t have the free time to constantly go check for myself. Looking forward to next month, I’m probably going to request a Mustang or Challenger. I’ve never drove either.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
10 months ago

Last Uber was a ~2016-18 Altima that lived up to the Altima stereotype. But made for a quick ride.

Last rental cars – for work, a Murano. I wasn’t driving, but rode shotgun. There’s a crease in the hood near the top edge/by the wipers that neatly reflects the midday Florida sun right in the front passenger’s faces.

Personal, a Kia Forte LX-S last May on a trip to Texas, from an “affordable” company – my main criteria was to not rent from the company in Exhibit C after stories on falsely reported thefts and the like. There were some hiccups with the process: checked in at the airport counter (which I hadn’t needed to after all), was told I had a Corolla. Gave the shuttle driver my space number – “there’s no car in that space!” – talk to the desk on the lot, they reassign me to the Kia; afterwards I filled it up on return and they charged me, but did refund it. But overall experience was good in the end – I haven’t driven a current Corolla, but was glad for the Kia and actually was impressed by the condition – I expected worse, with nearly 30k on it. The “IVT” in ‘smart’ mode was actually decent, A/C was cold, comfortable overall and did fine keeping up with my keeping up with the roads.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
10 months ago

Actually, remembered I had rides after the Altima that were just less eventful: a newer Armada (surprisingly tight 3rd row), followed by a Model Y (!).

Other memorable Uber/Lyfts: nicest was probably a previous-gen TLX A-spec. Most appalling due to condition was a 2009-10 base Corolla 5-speed that one of my friends actually went to high school with the driver and chatted the whole drive. Not smokey fortunately, but I think one of the doors even seemed like it had been bent back at one point and we weren’t sure how the car qualified, or if they had lifted vehicle age limits – another friend I was with had driven before for Uber ~5-6 years ago and their Civic was near the cutoff at that time.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
10 months ago

My last rental was VW Taigo in Denmark. I got an R-Line which was good for 148 hp rather than 108. I think it was luck that got me the R line because most of the Taigos in the lot were regular. It was a very reasonable car for 2 adults on vacation.

My most fun rental was a seriously underpowered, slightly ratty Citroen C3 in Croatia. It was totally a slow car fast scenario on the coastal roads.

Eddie Wuncler
Eddie Wuncler
10 months ago

Last Uber was a Durango. That’s got to be expensive to maintain

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
10 months ago
Reply to  Eddie Wuncler

Tires and fuel are certainly pricey. Maintenance might suck. It all depends on what goes wrong.

The engine and transmission of a V6 Durango with an 8 speed auto is nearly as good as any. I’d put that combo not too far behind Lexus and Toyota, and right about even with Honda. Filter for high mileage on car sale sites and you’ll see a disproportionate number of these out there chugging along, even accounting for how many are out there.

I’ve heard that the front suspension of most Chryslers is a complex multi-link design that makes it very difficult to get the steering rack out and back in. Many Chryslers also had AC components buried deep in the dash that made it a huge deal to change the blower motor and heater core, for example, but I’m not sure about more recent models.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
10 months ago

Never had a an Uber or Lyft.

Last rental, heck of a deal on a BMW 5 series. Fun to drive, not sure about owning it.

Drew
Drew
10 months ago

I don’t remember what the last Lyft I used was (might have been a Prius, but I used a few that trip and things are hard to keep straight), but my last rental was a Subaru Forester, if I recall correctly (putting things in chronological order is difficult). One of the nicer rentals I have ever used.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago

I think my last Uber or Lyft was a Camry and it was back in October to take us to the airport. Rideshares have become astronomically expensive in our area and I’m a sober, so it’s not like the wife and I ever need a DD. Rides from our house to the parts of the city that we like to spend time in are easily $50+ most of the time and it’s simply not worth it at that price, especially considering the fact that most of the Ubers in our area are driven by absolute maniacs.

During that airport ride our driver tried to go the wrong way down a one way in rush hour and nearly killed us. I usually go out of my way to be nice to folks in the service and adjacent industries because people are assholes more often than not and they have very difficult jobs, but I cussed that guy out. He nearly made us miss our flight and nearly killed us in the same drive. It was unbelievable. And the last time we took one before that the dude was driving so aggressively it made my wife sick, and she’s used to my driving so you know it was bad.

So basically, the quality of the service has gone down and the price has gone up, so no dice. My last rental was an Ecostang convertible on that same trip. We got a free upgrade so naturally I went with the electric blue Mustang. I honestly liked it more than I thought I would…there’s no shame in going with that 4 cylinder, and we averaged 26 MPG the whole weekend. Before that I had a Camaro SS drop top on our honeymoon in Hawaii and it was a blast.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
10 months ago

My last Uber was a nice KIA Sorrento ES. Driver was chill. Played smooth jazz at low level. A little sandlewood car freshener up front. Got a big tip for not forcing Chrismas music on me, despite it being the holiday. Would definitely use again, and said so in my review.

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