A taxi rideshare vehicle in Toronto.
Imagine if every taxi and rideshare vehicle like Uber or Lyft you saw on the road in the City of Toronto was an electric vehicle.

“I’m excited” by a city committee’s plan to transition taxi and rideshare vehicles to EVs to reduce greenhouse gases, but there is still a lot of work to do, says Plug’n Drive’s Cara Clairman

Imagine if every taxi and rideshare vehicle like Uber or Lyft you saw on the road in the city of Toronto was an electric vehicle.

Taxi and rideshare drivers are high-utilization drivers, meaning they are on the road more than the average person. Research shows that when these drivers use electric vehicles, it can have a three to four times the greenhouse gas emission benefit compared to when average car owners make the switch.

So, even though the taxi and rideshare industry only accounts for 4-6 per cent of emissions in Toronto, helping these drivers make that transition can have an outsized impact.

And it’s that big impact Toronto is looking to achieve with their new report: Transitioning the Vehicle for Hire Industry to Net Zero by 2030.

The report is ambitious, starting with the proposal to require all vehicles-for-hire to be zero emission by 2031. And, if adopted, will position Toronto as a leader in North America in the fight against climate change.  

I say this not just because Toronto took an evidence-based and consultative approach in developing the report. (Disclosure: I was a member of the working group that helped inform the discussion). But because this report sets out a big goal and follows it up with a framework, including meaningful steps Toronto can take, to help taxi and rideshare drivers make the transition to zero-emissions vehicles. 

As councillors consider this report, I have a simple message for them: Great start! Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We still have lots of work to do to make this happen together. 

A multi-step process

The working group identified three main issues that will need to be overcome in the coming years. We need more EVs, more charging, and prices need to come down to reach the mass market.

As next steps, I hope Toronto will continue this working group to keep seeking feedback and not be afraid to make changes to the strategy as market conditions change. Toronto also needs to expand its charging infrastructure — and fast. The ambitious plans of the Toronto Parking Authority are a great step, and we need even more.  

In addition, Toronto can advocate for other governments to do more. Ideas include creating an additional income-tested incentive for EV purchases, extending incentives to used EVs and installing charging infrastructure in multi-unit residential buildings to increase access for residents or renters and ensuring building codes are changed so any new multi-unit buildings include the ‘rough in’ for EV infrastructure. As well, governments could offer low interest loans to first time EV buyers.

The list goes on.

Looking forward

It’s pleasing to see how the industry is already taking its own steps on EV transition. Three years ago Uber announced a goal to have every driver on their platform driving an EV by 2030.

Montreal-based Louelec just expanded its EV rental program for rideshare drivers in Toronto. And taxi companies are changing their fleets to include hybrid and electric vehicles. 

It’s an exciting time being on the cusp of so many amazing things happening with electric vehicles. Ambitious targets are being set and the steps to achieve them are being put in place.

Cara Clairman

Cara Clairman is the founder and CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles across Canada to maximize their environmental and economic benefits. For more information or to book a free test drive, visit https://www.plugndrive.ca/.

Kite Mobility raises $3.5 million to grow its electric mobility platform for multi-family buildings