Uber Will Pay Drivers in Some Cities to Use Electric Cars
Uber would like its drivers to go electric, but it knows that practical realities like high prices and hours of charging time make that difficult. Its solution? Give those drivers a helping hand. It's launching an EV Champions pilot program in seven cities (Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle) that includes "direct monetary incentives" to drive EVs in some cities, including the existing testing ground of Pittsburgh. Local utilities are sometimes fronting part of the cost.
The compensation varies, but don't expect to buy a Model 3 with your fare. The LA Times learned that drivers in Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Francisco are getting just $1 extra per ride, with at least San Diego drivers capping out at $20 per week. Suffice it to say this is more for part-time drivers who are thinking of signing up for Uber than full-timers who want to recoup the cost of their car.
There are other perks, though. Drivers get access to education and resources that can help them find every available rebate or other incentive program (not just federal level tax credits). In Canada, Quebec drivers will receive memberships to an EV advocacy group that can give them reduced insurance premiums. And wherever drivers operate, there will be EV-specific app features, such as a notification for longer trips (30 minutes or more) to help them plan their charging times.
As a passenger, you'll be alerted when you pair up with an EV driver if you're either in the U.S. or Montreal, Canada.
Is this going to tip the balance dramatically in favor of Uber, or EVs as a whole? Not likely. It might influence an Uber driver's buying decision if an EV is in their price range, though. We'd add that there's a competitive motivation as well. Lyft plans to use EVs (particularly autonomous EVs) to help reach its climate goals, and it might cement its reputation as a kinder ridesharing service if it goes unopposed. Uber now has a talking point that it might use to reel in eco-conscious riders.