Uber will pay its drivers to switch to electric cars

UBER has announced a year-long pilot initiative to provide cash incentives to some drivers who begin using electric cars.

The ride-hailing service on Tuesday launched its EV (electric vehicle) Champions pilot program — a scheme to encourage drivers to ditch their fossil fuel-burning cars in favour of electric-powered ones, in seven cities (Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle) — with the goal of facilitating at least 5m trips over the next 12 months.

Financial assistance for drivers who switch to EVs is reported to vary from city to city. The LA Times learned that Uber plans to pay drivers in Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Francisco $1 (76p) extra per ride, with San Diego drivers having the fee capped at $20 (£15.20) per week.

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The news is the latest in a string of announcements by Uber that portends a shift in the company’s ethos, away from rides in petrol- and diesel-powered cars and towards pure-electric. Uber has also launched an electric bike-sharing service in Germany.

Adam Gromis, Uber’s head of sustainability, told the Los Angeles Times: “We see the writing on the wall. Unless we can be delivering a more efficient form of mobility, we won’t be providing a good solution that cities need.

“That’s why we’ve gone into bikes. That’s why we’re working with transit. That’s why we’re focused on electrification.”

As part of the new electric initiative, the company has produced a new video for EV drivers that provides basic information about driving EVs in the North America. Other incentives include access to free fast-charging networks in applicable cities.

Uber drivers will be banned from using vehicles that are not a hybrid or fully electric in London from 2020, as part of a plan to help tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the capital.

Diesel-powered cars on the app’s other services, such as UberXL for larger cars, will also be banned from 2020 in the capital.

For other UK cities blighted by dirty air, where fewer Uber cars are electrified already, the 100% hybrid and electric deadline is 2022.

In the longer term, the US company has said that by 2025 all of its cars in London must be fully electric or a plug-in hybrid, on which the battery typically lasts about 40 miles before needed to use the internal combustion engine.