Uber announced a new push to clean up its driver-owned fleets on Tuesday which offers some drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles extra pay per trip. The move comes as the popular ride-sharing company looks for ways to cut fleet emissions on a fleet it doesn’t own.
The one-year pilot program gives drivers of electric vehicles in a handful of cities extra pay and incentives to drive an electric vehicle. Uber is also using the opportunity to give riders in EVs in the United States or Montreal, Canada, an in-app notification that they are riding in an electric vehicle.
“EV Champions brings together two of today’s transportation revolutions: clean electric vehicles and shared-use mobility,” Giovanni Circella, director of the 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies shared. “We look forward to partnering with Uber to evaluate how the initiative can improve consumer understanding and adoption of EVs.”
Getting out on the road, Uber is offering a smorgasbord of incentives to the cities in the pilot program. Some drivers get straight up cash incentives while others get ‘educational material. Here’s a breakdown for a few of the cities in the pilot:
- San Diego: Uber will pay drivers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles an extra dollar per trip up to a maximum of $20 per week. Uber is also installing EV chargers at its San Diego Greenlight Hub.
- San Francisco: Uber will pay drivers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles an extra dollar per trip up to a maximum of $20 per week.
- Los Angeles: LA gets a big financial donut with zero cash bonus but Uber drivers will get ‘educational assistance’ which seems like a paltry offering compared to the cold, hard cash its offering in other regions.
- Sacramento: EV drivers get a whopping $1.50 extra per trip thanks to a $1.25 incentive from the local utility which Uber has rounded up to $1.50. The utility has also generously offered free vehicle charging on its network of DC fast chargers which by itself is a very generous offer. DCFC sessions typically run up near $10/30 minute session so free DCFC charging can make EVs a much more attractive proposition for Uber drivers.
- Pittsburgh: Uber will pay drivers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles an extra dollar per trip. An Uber spokesperson shared with the Verge that it has a $5,000 budget to spend on driver incentives in Pittsburgh in 2018.
Uber is making the push into vehicle electrification in an attempt to facilitate at least 5 million EV trips over the next 12 months compared to 4 million EV trips in 2017. Don’t hurt yourself guys. I think the market will take care of a meager 25% increase without much help. Maybe that’s why LA drivers just get ‘educational material’. If nothing else, the push will raise awareness for the public, which is great.
Uber shared studies from the International Transport Forum, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab that highlight how combining automation, electric vehicles and shared mobility in the right proportions can reduce the number of vehicles on the road along with tailpipe emissions.
Rolling up electric vehicles with automation and sprinkling on some shared mobility is a funny way of making what many environmentalists and planet-lovers have been saying for years – cars will be Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric – or CASE for short. Uber, in this case, is the Connected bit of the equation.
It’s not magic, but it may just be the formula that gives Uber the edge over other startups, although converting to fully autonomous vehicles represents a significant shift away from the driver-centric model that has kept it afloat to date. Transitioning from zero capital invested in cars to very expensive, autonomous, electric vehicles will require a significant increase in capital spending, but fortunately, that is a check that Uber has already showed it is eager to write.
The intentional push to promote vehicle electrification with its drivers and riders also helps Uber to continue to differentiate itself from US rival Lyft after an extremely challenging 2017 for the company.
Source: The Verge, Uber