Uber drivers won’t just have easy access to Tesla cars when they want to switch to EVs. Ford and Uber are launching an expanded Drive pilot program that provides a flexible Mustang Mach-E lease to rideshare drivers in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Operators pick leases in one- to four-month increments, and get their Mach-E within two weeks. After that, they use a Ford Drive app to handle payments and maintenance. Ford, meanwhile, buys fleets of the electric crossovers from dealerships and uses them for service.
A lease costs $199 per week with 500 included miles, and $249 per week with 1,000 miles. Drivers pay 20 cents for every additional mile beyond what their plan offers. That may seem expensive, but Ford is counting on the no-hassle exits and renewals as a draw. Uber workers can lease only when they have enough driving time to justify the expense.
Ford and Uber initially tested Drive in San Diego last year with over 150 Mustang Mach-E cars in the fleet. The companies didn’t say how successful the initial run was, but they note that California is Uber’s best market for EV demand. Nearly 10 percent of all passenger miles were completed in EVs as of late 2022, Ford says.
To qualify, drivers need to have at least a 4.85-star rating and over 150 trips. The Mustang on offer is a no-frills rear-wheel drive model with 247 miles of range, although it does have CoPilot360 driver aids.
The lease option is in line with Uber’s goal of becoming a zero-emissions service in North America and Europe by 2030. This theoretically makes EVs more viable for drivers who can’t commit to a purchase or multi-year lease. Uber also sweetens the proposition with an extra $1 per ride (up to $4,000 per year) and the option of serving premium Comfort Electric passengers. Not that Uber has much choice. California will require that most ride hailing cars are electric by 2030, while New York City wants a wholesale switch by the same year.
Ford, meanwhile, benefits by getting the Mach-E into the hands of rideshare drivers who would otherwise rent a Tesla EV through Hertz. This boosts exposure for the brand for passengers, too, and helps with Ford’s bid to establish itself as a general mobility company. The challenge is simply competing against Tesla’s sheer volume. The Hertz deal puts up to 50,000 Tesla EVs on American roads, and Ford’s Drive pilot won’t compete at its current scale.