Soaring oil prices upend the ride-hailing industry

Some Uber and Lyft drivers are reportedly finding it “more profitable” to rent or buy a Tesla electric car at a time when soaring gas prices have upended the ride-hailing industry. Last summer, Heidi Barnes, 34, considered upgrading her beloved Toyota Camry into a sleek Tesla Model 3 electric car. But Barnes never imagined that the Model 3 would become less of a luxury, or even a means of making a living until the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. exceeded $4 for the first time in March.

Almost overnight, the price of a tank of gas soared from about $60 to more than $100, making it difficult for Barnes to make a tidy profit transporting passengers in Los Angeles County. "It was a huge push for her to switch to Tesla early," she said.

Barnes chose to lease a Tesla Model 3 through Hertz for a month. Hertz struck a deal with Uber for a lease price of $334 a week, including repairs and insurance. Including charging costs, Barnes only pays about $450 a week, compared with nearly $600 to refuel the Camry. In the first week after switching to Tesla, Barnes was earning enough to cover a month's rent.

At the same time, her Tesla car was also welcomed by passengers. "Riders are much more generous these days. Before, I was lucky to get a tip of $1 to $3, but now it's $10 or $15," Barnes said. Barnes also showed a screenshot of his earnings to the media. , in 25 days of renting a car, she made a total of $2,600, more than double the previous $800 to $1,000.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States exceeded $5 this month, the highest level since 2000. As prices continue to climb, the differences between gasoline-powered and electric vehicles will only become more pronounced.

For drivers who see their take-home pay cut, the shift isn't just a saving of a few dollars from fees, it's a lucrative income opportunity. According to data, the number of online car-hailing and delivery drivers who chose Tesla in May this year increased by 186% compared to June last year.

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