Monday, February 26, 2024
Jake Brockman of Uber Canada answers questions from ED Chair Alejandro Bravo. Photo: YouTube
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Uber’s deputation on all-electric Vehicles for hire

Following is the transcript of Uber Director of Policy Jake Brockman’s deputation at Toronto’s September 21st Economic Development Committee. Taxi News plans to share additional deputations in the days ahead.

Good afternoon, Chair Bravo, Vice Chair Carol, members of the committee. Thank you very much for having me today. My name is Jake Brockman and I work for Uber Canada based in our Toronto office.

Today is a big day for the City of Toronto and the entire vehicle for hire industry. In front of you councillors is a robust set of recommendations supported by Uber Canada, that would bring the vehicle for hire industry to net zero, a full decade ahead of the city wide transformed to 2040 Target. I want to spend my time today talking about the thousands of vehicles for hire drivers in the city and what we hear from them.

Drivers range from students earning between classes, parents fitting in trips, while their children are at school, retirees wanting social interaction. And more commonly these days, those who are seeking to supplement their primary employment income due to inflation and increasing cost of living. And these drivers have earned on average, approximately $34 per engaged hour before tips over the last four weeks.

But when it comes to the transition to EVs, I want to talk about two sets of drivers. Those who have already made the transition to hybrids or EVs, and those who have not yet but are actively considering it. The first group of drivers are those who have already made the transition to a hybrid or electric vehicle. This is about one in five drivers on the Uber platform in the city of Toronto today.

These drivers are climate ambassadors of the broader transition to net zero in the city of Toronto, for many Torontonians and visitors to our amazing city, an Uber green or comfort electric ride might be their first experience with an Eevee drivers tell us that riders and other drivers often ask them questions about their EV. And this really starts a multiplier effect in the industry and the broader community. And this multiplier effect is working. EV uptake by drivers using Ubers app is over six times higher in Canada in the US than drivers in the general population.

And Uber has actively incentivized and invested in this transition. From February 1 of this year to January 31, 2025, eligible drivers of EVs in the city of Toronto can earn an additional $10,000 through Uber zero emissions incentive. In Canada, we will have invested more than $10 million into this incentive program by the end of the year, with adoption increasing rapidly.

But the second group of drivers, Chair, are those who have not yet transitioned to a hybrid or electric vehicle. In a 2022 survey of drivers in Canada, we found that 66 per cent are interested in switching to an Eevee. But when we talk to these drivers, we hear about the real barriers they face in making the transition. These barriers can be divided into three categories, affordability, access to financing and charging infrastructure. on affordability.

The fact of the matter is that while Ontario is leading on the EV production side globally, the lack of a provincial consumer incentive program in Ontario is a major barrier to mainstream adoption. In places like BC, we see drivers making their transition faster, in part due to the availability of the provincial incentive. And we applaud the particular staff recommendations on incentive that should go directly to drivers.

None of this should come to Uber, it should go directly to the drivers impacted by this transition. And when drivers look to get financing for EVs drivers are seeing applications rejected or being offered financing rates that are significantly above market.

And finally, charging. Drivers tell us that range anxiety is a significant issue that compounds the total cost of ownership. As even when the economics makes sense.

On the purchase side, drivers are concerned about whether they will have access to adequate charging, and the staff report is unequivocal on this point. Currently, the City of Toronto has 198 Level Three charging stations to support a 100% ZEV vehicle for hire sector. The city’s own projections suggest we’ll need 12 to 17 times that by 2030.

So, the recommendations before you mark a major step forward in the vehicle for hire industry. And going forward we have three additional recommendations for committee to consider to improve the likelihood that the industry can actually meet its target.

First, as has been discussed today, there is a need to monitor progress against the key market factors that will determine the success of this transition.

Second, and you just heard this from Taff. The city should rapidly expand the availability of publicly accessible level three charging stations and affordable over at level two charging and third the city must call on upper tiers of government to provide robotic incentives to vehicle for hire drivers who are looking to transition to a new or used fully electric vehicle.

Thanks very much, Chair, and I look forward to taking your questions.