By on March 16, 2015


Chicago Uber customers are the first to take a ride in a Chinese-made EV, thanks to a deal between BYD and the transportation network company.

Reuters reports the deal involves a test fleet of 25 BYD e6 EVs made available through Chicago-based Green Wheels USA, a concern that sells EVs and hybrids as well as charging stations. UberX drivers can lease from the fleet — which could expand to around 200 by year’s end — for $200/week, allowing them to drive the e6 during their shift before returning the vehicle to Green Wheels for recharging; lease-to-own and traditional leasing programs are also available.

The e6 program, part of the TNC’s overall financing program meant to put drivers into new or used vehicles through purchases or lease agreements, could help pave the way for BYD to bring all of its offerings to the U.S. market. So far, the automaker has only brought over electric buses and a limited number of e6s, the latter for pilot programs.

As for why the two companies teamed up, none would comment on the deal, which could expand to cover more cities should Chicago’s test run prove to be viable.

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19 Comments on “Uber, BYD Sign Deal To Test EV Fleet In Chicago...”

  • avatar

    Hope they’re bulletproof!

    Seriously though… China’s cheap EV are gonna spell the end of TESLA. Perhaps Fisker will get a round 2?

    • 0 avatar

      I really wouldn’t be worried for Tesla at this time, even if they somehow can meet American standards, perception of Chinese (lack of) quality is deeply ingrained in Americans. This isn’t similar to Japanese cars since most of us don’t personally remember WWII, and since Japan has been putting out quality electronics for almost half a century.
      Everytime I have something break it has the little molded words “Made in China” at the bottom, no, even with quality at American standards, Americans rightfully won’t outright accept a Chinese car.

      • 0 avatar

        This is a good opportunity for BYD to test an electric car in some pretty harsh conditions. If they have engineers on hand to monitor the cars and track and fix problems it would go a long way to improving actual quality as well as the perception of it. China can make high quality stuff and it’s mainly the market demanding low prices (along with some aspects of their current business culture) that results in the junk we normally associate with their manufacturing.

      • 0 avatar

        Amen. Volvo’s brand has been creamed simply by virtue of a Chinese parent company. Take it from someone who just had to give away a Volvo 850R! No way will they buy a vehicle Made in China. Ain’t gonna happen unless automakers do what the electronics producers do and take away consumer choice by making everything there.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe. I can remember when “Made in Japan” had the same market significance that “Made in China” does now. Japanese cars definitely had to overcome a very poor “national brand” image. Which they eventually did.

        As did Korean cars not so long ago.

        Will Chinese cars succeed in North America? No one has a crystal ball, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

    • 0 avatar

      Tesla is already being whipped by the e-Golf in Norway by 4 to 1. The Leaf by 3 to 1.

      The Rav4E with Tesla powertrain is being recalled. Bodes well! Maybe in the US, Tesla and its bighead CEO will prevail for a time by waving flags, but in a world context, they don’t have a hope.

      As for BYD and Chinese EVs, they might as well give up now. On a world scale, they face prejudice, and in any case has any BYD vehicle ever been thought of as worthy of purchase in a Western context? Out-of-date before they hit the road.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle


        “Tesla is already being whipped by the e-Golf in Norway”

        No kidding, the most popular car in Europe is outselling an ultra-luxury car that costs >3 times more?
        The only thing that’s surprising about that newsbit is that some are feigning surprise. And that the margin is so tiny.

        I know people have dedicated their lives to reading Tesla’s tea leaves and predicting their demise, but the only thing that matters to Tesla is how they execute in their cheaper, higher volume models. Until then, complaining about their cup holders and being amazed that it’s not out-selling popular hatchbacks is just a waste of breath. The Model S has already achieved everything it was meant to: it’s made automotive consumers worldwide aware of Tesla’s existence.

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno about Tesla, but it’ll most certainly spell the end of the cars next to your BYD mobile bombing device…

  • avatar

    Oh, great – Uber *and* BYD. If the driver doesn’t kill you, the car will!

    Yeah, I know, plenty of good stuff gets made in China. They clearly have the ability to build high quality things. But it’s going to take a lot more time before I trust my life to companies who have so recently demonstrated such an incredibly flagrant disregard for the survival of their customers.

  • avatar

    To me, this defeats the purpose of Uber. If this deal goes through, they’ll be nothing more than a taxi company looking to lease vehicles for their (non) employees to use to shuttle people.

    Is this their end goal?

  • avatar

    I was baffled to see one of these in my neighborhood the other day.

  • avatar

    Every story I can find on this deal seems to stem from the one Reuters piece, which leaves some significant questions unanswered. It would be great to see some further reporting on whether the BYD products have been crash-tested here and are certified to meet U.S. safety standards.

    If not, why not? Are all the vehicles in this deal instead “test” vehicles that will be exported after a year or crushed?

    The Green Wheels people are also offering a 2013-model BYD E6 for sale (with 100 miles on it). How is all this legal?

  • avatar

    I saw one of these in traffic this weekend in Downtown LA. BYD’s US headquarters are located in LA. I’ve passed by a number of times and it’d be easy to confuse it for a Daewoo dealer circa 2003.

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    BYD = Build Your Disaster. Uber is a joke.

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