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Uber Launches Pilot Program Geared Towards EV use

June 22, 2018 0 Comments

Uber is launching an effort to motivate its drivers away from traditional fossil-fuel powered engines in part by offering its drivers using electric vehicles cash incentives as part of a new pilot program.

The ride-sharing company announced the pilot program and its cash incentives with the goal of “facilitating at least 5 million trips over the next 12 months,” The Verge reported. Uber is adding new features to its smartphone app for EV drivers, alerting them if trips will last 30 minutes or longer so they can prepare accordingly.

Uber is also partnering up with nonprofits and UC-Davis researchers to discover new ways both the company and local governments can encourage adoption of EVs.

“We see the writing on the wall,” said Adam Gromis, head of sustainability at Uber. As cities move towards sustainable transportation, he added, companies need to “boost” their “environmental friendliness.”

“Unless we can be delivering a more efficient form of mobility, we won’t be providing a good solution that cities need,” Gromis said. “That’s why we’ve gone into bikes. That’s why we’re working with transit. That’s why we’re focused on electrification.”

Uber’s pilot program will take place in seven cities: Montreal, Austin, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, with incentives varying from city to city.

In Sacramento, local public-owned utility SMUD will provide $1.25 per completed trip in a zero-emission vehicle, with Uber rounding it up to $1.50 per trip. Additionally, drivers will have free access to SMUD’s DC fast-charging network.

In San Diego and San Francisco, Uber will pay drivers using plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) $1 per completed trip, capping the max payout at $20 per week. EV charging stations should be installed at Uber’s San Diego Greenlight Hub in the coming weeks.

There are no financial perks for EV trips in Los Angeles, though Uber is providing educational assistance.

In Pittsburgh, Uber is offering $1 per completed trip for drivers using PHEVs and BEVs. The ride-sharing company is in talks with Duquesne Light Company seeking to “expand the city’s high-speed charging infrastructure,” which is a major problem downtown. According to a spokesperson, Uber has budgeted $5,000 for driver incentives in Pittsburgh for 2018.

In the U.S. and Canada last year, about 4 million Uber trips were made in EVs, the company said, and its goal of 5 million EV trips in 2018 seems within reach.

The program makes up part of a larger, broader effort as Uber tries to improve its reputation after a disastrous 2017. It may also be incentivized by Uber’s rivalry with Lyft, which recently announced a multimillion-dollar investment to “become a completely carbon-neutral transportation service.” By 2025, Lyft hopes to provide “at least” 1 billion rides with EVs, and currently has 100,000 drivers using such vehicles.

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