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Uber, Lyft Drivers Switch to Teslas as High Gas Prices Squeeze Profit

In May, 186% more ride-share drivers opted for a Tesla than last summer

The Tesla logo on the steering wheel of an Uber Tesla Model S electric automobile.

The Tesla logo on the steering wheel of an Uber Tesla Model S electric automobile.

Photographer: Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg
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Some Uber and Lyft drivers are finding that renting or buying a Tesla, the luxury electric car, is a more profitable option now amid soaring gas prices that have upended the economics of gig work.  

Last summer, Heidi Barnes, 34, thought about upgrading her beloved 2009 Toyota Camry, which she nicknamed “The Beast,” for a sleek Tesla Inc. Model 3 sedan. The Lancaster, California-based driver never imagined that the high-end vehicle would become less of a splurge and more like a last resort until the average price for a gallon of gas in the US surpassed $4 for the first time in March. Almost overnight, a full tank went from costing Barnes roughly $60 to a day to more than $100, making it harder to make a decent profit from ferrying passengers around Los Angeles County. “It was a huge push to get in a Tesla sooner rather than later,” Barnes said.