Electric Uber rides double in six months

Twice as many Australians are riding in electric vehicles via Uber compared to six months ago, the tech giant has revealed as local drivers rush to adopt the next generation of transport.

Uber revealed its electric vehicle advances days after the company confirmed it was working to design its own lower cost battery-powered vehicles specifically for ride-sharing.

Industry experts called Uber's investment in green transport a "step in the right direction" but warned drivers could need more financial assistance to make the upgrade.

An Uber spokeswoman told AAP the rate of electric vehicle rides on the company's platform had doubled in Australia over the past six months, and the number of drivers with electric vehicles had increased by almost nine times since July 2021.

Electric vehicle use rose even higher in Queensland, where the rate of electric Uber rides was 61 per cent greater than the national average, she said.

Late last year, Uber reduced its service fees for drivers using electric vehicles and announced plans to become a zero-emissions platform in Australia by 2040.

But the spokeswoman said there were still speed bumps in getting more electric vehicles on the platform.

"Driver partners tell us that the biggest barrier to EV uptake is the lack of affordable models in Australia," she said.

"We believe we need bold fuel efficiency standards in place if we want to see more vehicle manufacturers prioritise affordable models for the Australian market."

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told an audience outside the World Economic Forum in Davos last week the company was working with automakers to design electric vehicles specifically for ride-sharing.

Mr Khosrowshahi said its electric cars would be customised for urban areas, could see passengers "facing each other" and may cost less than current battery-powered vehicles.

"I do think that top speeds that many cars have are not necessary for city driving that's associated with ride-share," he said.

"That can reduce the specs and if you reduce the specs you can reduce the ultimate cost."

Uber would also design electric vehicles on two or three wheels for small-scale deliveries, Mr Khosrowshahi said, though he declined to name Uber's collaborators.

Swinburne University future urban mobility professor Hussein Dia lauded the company's investments in electric vehicles, saying the technology could make significant impacts in lowering carbon emissions and reducing drivers' costs.

"Shared fleets are ripe for electrification," he said.

"It will mean that drivers will experience lower expenses including petrol, maintenance, and depreciation. Even if it reduces car expenses by 15 per cent, drivers can make more money."

But Professor Dia said many drivers would need financial assistance from the government or ride-share platforms to overcome the high purchase price of current electric vehicles, which start somewhere near $45,000.