Uber will offer electric vehicles to 10,000 Australian drivers under a rent-to-buy scheme as part of the tech giant’s efforts to reach zero emissions by 2040.

Uber Australia on Wednesday announced it would be importing 10,000 electric vehicles from China in partnership with EVDirect, the Australian distributor for Chinese EV manufacturer BYD.

These will be the BYD Atto 3 model, which retails from $48,000.

Under the scheme, Uber Australia will offer “competitive” financing offers for these vehicles for Uber and UberEats drivers, with rental and full ownership offerings available.

Financing will begin from $269 per week, leading to car ownership in four years.

Uber drivers will also be able to rent an electric vehicle from the company and return it after a minimum term, where it will be sold as a used vehicle.

The rent-to-buy announcement comes as Uber was fined $412,000 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for sending more than two million marketing emails without an unsubscribe function, including to more than 500,000 people who had previously unsubscribed.

EV uptake

Uber Australia general manager Dom Taylor said the company is striving to increase the uptake of electric vehicles amongst its drivers.

“When we ask drivers if they want to upgrade to an EV, two-thirds say yes, but less than 20 per cent say that they think it’s actually likely,” Taylor said.

“Our analysis in 2021 showed that was because of the high upfront cost of the car in Australia, and that a hybrid car was a lower-cost option and that was why we saw more hybrids in Australia.

“We’ve run the same analysis in 2023 using the Atto 3, and it’s at a tipping point where today an EV is the lowest-cost option.”

EVDirect chief executive Luke Todd said the 10,000 vehicles coming into Australia are just the beginning.

“Once people understand how much money can be saved and how easy it is to transition, we think this will be a tidal-wave movement,” Todd said.

More electric vehicle models will also soon become available through the Uber scheme.

Uber Australia has pledged to eliminate all emissions from its operations by 2040.

Earlier this year it launched a new feature allowing users to select Uber Green to ride in an electric car, at the same cost as UberX.

The company has also opened 500 more spots for its service fee reduction program for Victorian Uber drivers, which sees the mandatory service fees halved for each trip until June 2025 with a cap of $3,500 per financial year for EVs.

Cheaper EVs abound

This comes at a time when more affordable electric vehicles are finally hitting the Australian market.

In June this year, two new vehicles became available in Australia with price tags below $40,00. The MG4 Excite model came in at $38,990 – at the time the cheapest EV available in Australia.

BYD then announced the Dolphin model, which retails for $100 less.

The High Court last week struck down Victoria’s electric vehicles tax, stalling plans for similar taxes across the country.

Victoria had introduced a charge for electric, hydrogen and plug-in hybrid vehicle owners for every kilometre they travel, aiming to mirror the Commonwealth’s fuel excise, which is imposed only on fuel-powered vehicles.

But the High Court found that this was a tax on the use of an electric vehicle, something that can only be imposed by the Commonwealth government. The New South Wales and Western Australia state governments had planned to introduce similar EV taxes by 2027, but these plans are now in jeopardy.

The federal government is also readying to introduce a fuel efficiency standard, which will set a limit on the total average emissions allowable across all cars sold in Australia, with an aim to incentivise the development and sale of EVs.