Uber is piloting a program with the goal to deliver and analyze at least 5 million EV rides over the next year by creating monetary incentives for EV drivers. The ride-hailing giant launched the pilot with the intention of expanding the number of electrified vehicles in its service network and have dubbed it EV Champions Initiative. The initiative has been launched in Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento. "This program builds off the success of existing pilots in Pittsburgh and Portland and we're proud to team up with experts who have decades of experience in EV adoption. Together, we hope to better equip both plug-in electric and full battery electric vehicle drivers for success," said Adam Gromis, Uber Global Lead for Sustainability and Environmental Impact, in a statement.
In partnership with the University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, Association des Véhicules Électricques du Québec, Sacramento Municipal Utility District and other industry players, the program seeks to increase access to EV education and resources for Uber drivers. "What we've learned from drivers is that they love not paying for gas and giving their riders a quiet, smooth, efficient, high-tech ride," said Gromis. However, Uber EV drivers must contend with a shortage of public charging facilities in the US, most notably busy downtown areas. Without the means of an easy access to a charging station, drivers must factor in longer charging down times when they could be picking up passengers, one of the goals the initiative aims to rectify. The program will provide EV drivers up to date information of EV-related resources and even offer "direct monetary incentives" in certain cities. Uber will also introduce an in-app feature catered to EV drivers such as 30-minute trip notifications to ensure drivers do not run out of battery.
Riders will now get a push notification with the alert that they have been matched with an EV driver. However, this does not mean riders will have the option to choose an EV ride. That option is only available in certain European cities, called Uber Green, and offered in only cities with a high number of EV drivers along with a high density of charging infrastructure to support the feature. But Uber Green, or something similar could come to North America soon. The initiative will allow Uber to directly collaborate with cities on where to install new fast charging infrastructure, one of the biggest goals of the program. About four million Uber rides were taken in EVs last year in the US and Canada alone.