Portland, Oregon will be the first US city for Uber to launch their new environmentally friendly electric car initiative by adding more electric cars to their fleet. The reason Portland was chosen was because of the state's clean energy incentives and laws. "We're starting this initiative here because Portland and the State of Oregon are national leaders in the transition to clean energy and electric vehicles," said Bryce Bennett, Uber's general manager for Oregon. "Last year the legislature had the foresight to pass one of the strongest clean energy laws in the nation, which empowers utilities to increase and improve the infrastructure needed to grow the electric car market. That legislation, and the plans now before the Oregon Public Utility Commissioner, are the catalyst for what we're starting."
The current incentives Oregon offers include a $3000 rebate for a full electric car and $1500 for plug-in hybrids. According to Driveoregon.org "the federal incentive for four-wheeled, highway-capable vehicles is typically referred to as a flat $7500 tax credit. To be precise, however, the credit is $2500 plus $417 for each kilowatt-hour of battery capacity in excess of 5-kilowatt hours." Tax credits can lower the upfront cost for new vehicles. "While some plug-in hybrids are only able to qualify for a portion of the credit, the battery size for plug-in electric vehicles, and extended range electric vehicles typically ensures that they qualify to receive the full credit amount. The total amount of credit available for a plug-in electric or hybrid electric is $7500." The state also offers infrastructure incentives which include "a tax credit for 50 percent of the cost of a charging station or other alternative fuel infrastructure project, up to $750.... Businesses may receive a tax credit for up to 35 percent of the qualified cost of charging stations or other alternative fuel infrastructure projects." Currently, only 100 out of 6000 Uber drivers in Portland use electric cars. The company has the goal of 10 percent of their fleet to be electric vehicles by 2019.
To reach that mark, Uber is pursing a wide range of collaborations. The company will be working with the Black Parent Initiative to expand electric vehicle access to undeserved communities. In addition to Cynergy E-Bikes to connect UberEATS couriers with electric bikes and Arcimoto, an electric vehicle company. Uber is also expected to use its auto-lease subsidiary Xchange Leasing to offer in-house incentives for drivers who wish to switch over to an electric car. However, it is still a wonder why Uber would choose Portland to test pilot this program when the company itself is about to face battle at the Oregon Legislature and an investigation by the city of Portland for the company's use of software to thwart regulators in 2014 while it was operating illegally in the city. New York Times had reported the Uber had used a software it called "Greyball" to identify and reject hails from city code enforcers during that time period. A video showed code officers' ride requests repeatedly canceled, thwarting their attempts to fine the company and its drivers. Uber would later suspend its operations until the city legalized their business model in 2015.