Originally posted on CleanTechnica
Chinese automaker Build Your Dreams, or BYD as its better known, has pledged build nothing but plug-in cars, and its ambitions stretch beyond China’s borders. Besides a few electric buses though, vehicles bearing the BYD badge are few and far between in the USA. A new partnership with car-sharing service Uber is about to change that, at least in Chicago.
Reuters reports that Uber has already leased 25 BYD e6 electric crossovers for testing purposes in Chicago, and that number could soon expand to some 200 EVs if the pilot program proves successful. BYD launched a similar program in London last December, and the scheme sees Uber offering its low-cost UberX drivers a chance to buy or lease one of the electric crossovers for about $200 a week,. Those who decide to lease return their taxi to an Uber garage for charging after their shift, though drivers could eventually have the option of buying an e6 for themselves through a lease-to-own program operated by Green Wheels Chicago.
Never heard of the BYD e6? That’s not surprising, as the electric crossover is sold almost exclusively in China, though the automaker is making a push to get it seen as an effective fleet solution. The automaker claims an urban driving range of about 187 miles per charge, though according to the EPA’s estimates, 127 miles is a more accurate assessment of the e6’s range. The 101 horsepower electric motor isn’t likely to impress many people with its get-up-and-go, but the weekly $200 lease deal isn’t much more than the $130 to $150 a week many Uber drivers spend on gasoline alone. So getting to drive a brand new electric car for just a little more than the price of gas (which drivers themselves are responsible for) certainly has appeal for those who may have balked at the seemingly-high weekly lease price.
While BYD may be having trouble breaking into the consumer car market, if it can find success selling to fleet buyers like Uber, its long-delayed entry into the American market may finally happen.