On Wednesday 27 October, Uber announced its plans of launching a new partnership with the American rental car company Hertz in order to offer 50,000 Tesla vehicles as a rental option to its US ride-hail drivers by 2023. The move comes two days after Hertz announced it had ordered 100,000 Teslas which were expected by the end of 2022—the biggest-ever Tesla order, which saw the company’s market value surpass $1 trillion.
Starting on 1 November, Uber drivers will be able to rent a Tesla car through Hertz in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Washington DC, with the programme aiming to expand to cities nationwide later this year.
The Tesla rentals, consisting mostly of the company’s infamous Model 3, will be available exclusively to Uber drivers for a pretty sum of $334 a week, including insurance and maintenance. Uber Technologies Inc. said the rental cost would drop to $299 per week or lower as the programme expands throughout the country.
This latest deal represents Uber’s most significant step so far in expanding the use of electric vehicles on its platform. The company has previously vowed to operate only electric vehicles (EVs) on its US, Canadian and European platforms by 2030, and worldwide by 2040. But only a few of its drivers can afford the higher tag prices that come with EVs and according to Reuters, in 2019 “only 0.15 per cent of all Uber miles in the US and Canada were driven in electric vehicles.”
On top of that, because they spend more than a third of their time driving around empty, Uber drivers have been shown to produce more pollution per passenger-mile travelled. “Researchers generally assume that electrifying one ride-hail vehicle reduces the same amount of CO2 as converting three regular gas-powered vehicles,” Reuters further reported.
Meanwhile, Hertz, which is emerging from bankruptcy, hopes this new EV focus will allow the once-dominant company to stand out against competitors. Carmakers are also considering partnerships with ride-hailing companies as a convenient way to expose more consumers to non-fuel-powered vehicles. Let’s just hope that the lucky drivers who manage to get their hands on one of Hertz’s Teslas don’t put too much trust in their car’s autopilot.
Back in March 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested an alternative to Coachella, a “mega rave cave” under Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory. Musk tweeted a poll on whether the event should take place before adding that the party should have “an epic sound system & woofers the size of a car.” A whopping 90.2 per cent answered ‘yes’ to the promise of a Musk-produced party and about 18 months later, they were blessed with the ‘GigaFest’.
The event took place on 9 October, and welcomed almost 9,000 visitors to the new German Tesla grounds—the Tesla Giga Berlin. “DJs including Boris Brejcha performed alongside food trucks, ‘street art’, and a ferris wheel, while Tesla coils were synced up to produce voltage sparks in time to the beat of the music,” Dazed wrote about GigaFest. And the publication wasn’t joking—Tesla coils did in fact sync up to the beat of the music… That being said, whether the event can truly be qualified as a “mega rave” is up for debate.
Musk himself went on stage to welcome the ravers in broken German and stated that he hoped the first cars assembled at the factory would be delivered by December. Construction on the Berlin factory had briefly been sidetracked by hibernating snakes—no joke—but it is expected to produce about 500,000 Tesla cars a year (so long as Germany’s Environment Ministry gives Musk the green light to start production at the site).
The company has also submitted plans to invest €5 billion (about £4.2 billion) in a battery plant with 50GWh capacity next to the site, outstripping Volkswagen’s planned 40GWh capacity site in Salzgitter. While Tesla has repeatedly said the site will bring Germany significantly closer to achieving its e-mobility goals, some locals and environmental groups are unhappy with Musk’s disruptive approach which they say flies in the face of German business culture.
Business aside, Musk’s GigaFest shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the tech bro entrepreneur and self-named “Technoking of Tesla” has previously released his own techno and EDM tracks—his latest one was about NFTs, which he then sold as an NFT—and has also been developing a Neuralink chip that streams music directly into your brain while preaching the benefits of nuking Mars. Thanks, but no thanks.