Ford pilot program offers Uber drivers in California flexible Mach-E leases

Ford has launched a pilot that will give Uber drivers access to flexible leases on Mustang Mach-E models in three California cities.

The pilot program, called Ford Drive, launched Thursday in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s an initiative of Ford Next, a division within Ford that incubates and launches new business that align with Ford’s goals.

The partnership is in line with Uber’s $800 million commitment to helping drivers on its platform switch to zero-emissions vehicles in North America and Europe by 2030. Uber has already partnered with car rental companies like Hertz, Zevvy and Hive to offer affordable and flexible EV leases to its ride-hail drivers, but this is the first time the company is working directly with an automaker.

The upshot? With this pilot, Ford and Uber are effectively trialing cutting out the middle man.

The pilot is launching in California, the state that represents Uber’s biggest market. It’s also the only state to pass legislation mandating that ride-hail trips must be performed in zero-emissions vehicles by 2030. Uber appears to be making some headway in that vein, at least in California. By the end of 2022, close to 10% of on-trip miles in California were completed in fully electric vehicles, according to Uber. In the U.S. and Canada, that number is around 4.1%, according to Uber’s sustainability report.

Uber and Ford first trialed a similar lease program in San Diego last year. Uber drivers ended up leasing over 150 Mach-Es, and today over 80% are rolling over into Ford Drive. Ford didn’t share how many vehicles it will make available to Uber drivers as part of the extended pilot.

Participating drivers will be able to choose between one and four-month leases, depending on the location. Rates will vary by city, but they’ll look something like $199 per week for 500 miles or $249 per week for 1,000 miles, according to a Ford spokesperson. If drivers end up using more miles, they’ll pay $0.20 per mile. Uber drivers can also qualify for the company’s zero emission incentive, which pays them $1 per trip performed in an EV, up to $4,000 annually.

The Ford Drive team will work with local dealers to purchase a fleet of Mach-Es specifically for leasing to Uber ride-hail drivers. Upon placing an order, drivers can expect delivery of the vehicle within two weeks. They’ll use the Ford Drive app to handle payments and servicing, while local dealers handle service and maintenance of the cars.

There is no set end date or public expansion plans to other cities or customers. Although the program is exclusively accessible through the Uber Marketplace, it doesn’t restrict Uber drivers from using the Mach-Es for Lyft rides. Because many ride-hail drivers operate on multiple platforms, they often switch between Uber and Lyft.