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Uber drivers in Chicago start testing electric cars

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Chicago now serves as home to an Uber fleet comprised of 25 all-electric cars. They're not Tesla Model S vehicles like that Uber ride Engadget's editors hailed back in 2013, though -- they're BYD e6 EVs straight from China. Uber has teamed up with Chinese automaker BYD or "Build Your Dream" in an effort to help its drivers either buy or lease new cars. While it seems odd that the company has chosen to partner with BYD instead of with manufacturers more well-known in the country like Tesla, e6s are larger than many other EVs. It's already being used by a chauffer service in London (and a taxi company in Hong Kong) for that reason.

One downside, though, is that it only has a range of 186 miles on a single charge, whereas a Model S has a 265-mile range. Speaking of batteries: BYD aims to triple its EV battery production as a preemptive measure against Tesla, which is planning its own gigafactory. The Chinese company, which already has manufacturing plants in the US, will add 6 gigawatt hours of global production per year within the next three years.

The 25 e6s roaming the city came from local dealership Green Wheels USA, which offers Uber drivers a number of payment options, including traditional lease-to-own programs. At the moment, most drivers seem to prefer paying the dealership $200 per week to rent the EV. That option allows them to bring back the cars to Green Wheels' lot for recharge after their driving shift.

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