BYD Battery-Powered e6 Uber Rides Available in Chicago

Apr 20, 2015 12:22 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Chinese automaker Build Your Dreams (BYD) has teamed with Uber to supply drivers with hybrids in Chicago as part of a new test program.

Drivers for the ride-hailing company will get the chance to lease out e6 hybrids for a week at a time to pick up customers in the Chicago area, according to Reuters. If the program is successful, BYD e6 vehicles could become available as part of a similar program in other areas in the U.S.

The Silicon Valley startup wants to help Uber drivers purchase or lease newer vehicles and the BYD e6 is the first electric vehicle available as part of that initiative.

Vehicles are available now through local Chicago car dealership and EV aficionado Green Wheels USA. With an EPA-estimated range of 127 miles per charge, it's not hard to see why Uber teamed with the relatively unknown automaker.

"It is also the first electric vehicle with an entirely environmentally stable and inert battery chemistry," said Micheal Austin, vice president of BYD America, according to Fox News. "There are no heavy metals or caustic materials used in the manufacturing of the BYD iron-phosphate battery."

Nearly 25 e6 vehicles are already being used by drivers in the Windy City and BYD hopes to up that total to a "couple hundred" before the end of 2015, Doug Snower, Green Wheels' President, said to Reuters.

Uber drivers can choose from a number of different programs like one that lets drivers pay $200 a week to use an e6 during their shifts. Once a shift is over, the e6 must be returned to a Green Wheels lot to be charged up for the next shift.

More traditional lease options are also available along with a lease-to-own program, Snower said to Reuters.

The e6 can already be found cruising roads in Europe, Asia and South America, according to Reuters. BYD could use the Uber deal to help jump-start mass production within a couple of years. 

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