Uber announced last Friday that they have signed a deal with one of China’s largest automakers BYD Co. to test a fleet of their electric cars in a pilot program for its drivers.
Uber launched the pilot program in Chicago just a few weeks ago to use the BYD e6 electric cars and if all goes well, the test could expand into other markets soon.
The program would allow Uber drivers to lease, rent or buy the vehicles through Chicago’s Green Wheels USA dealership. The more popular option is to rent the vehicle for $200 a week and then return it to the dealership to be charged and rented out to be used again.
“We’ve seen interest in the program already from current and potential Chicago partners,” Uber spokeswoman Lauren Altmin told Reuters. Green Wheels said it hopes to make a couple hundred electric vehicles available for drivers on Chicago streets by the end of 2015.
There are currently 25 e6’s roaming the streets of Chicago. They have a range of about 186 miles on a single charge. BYD currently has plans to triple the battery production on this model to be able to compete with Tesla and their Model S electric car, which has a life span of about 265 miles per charge.
This recent news comes at the same time that the taxi giant’s CFO, Brent Callinicos, has decided to leave the company, making it one of the most significant changes that they’ve made in their 6-year run.