Uber has a few interesting electric vehicle initiatives, like an all-electric fleet pilot project with 20 Nissan LEAFs in London and they deployed a fleet of Tesla Model S in Madrid, but now they are bringing their first EV program stateside.
The company will help drivers purchase or lease electric vehicles. They are starting the program in Portland, Oregon, but hopefully, they expand the program to other markets.
Not only it will bring more electric vehicles on the road directly through drivers, but they will also incentivize drivers to educate riders about EVs through an “EV Ambassador program”.
It’s especially important when you consider that the lack of awareness is surprisingly still the biggest problem for electric vehicle adoption.
Uber says that the Portland metro area already had a higher percentage of Uber drivers with electric vehicles (100 out of ~6,000), but they aim to “add hundreds more.”
Here are the key initial elements of the program:
The purchase and lease of electric vehicles by Xchange Leasing, which will help Uber driver-partners acquire new electric vehicles (EVs)
An EV Ambassador program that will provide incentives for Uber driver-partners driving electric vehicles to educate their riders about the benefits of EVs
Partnership with Cynergy E-Bikes, a small business in SE Portland, to make electric bikes available for rent or lease to Uber partners who deliver food for UberEATS
A summer marketing partnership with Arcimoto, a Eugene-based electric vehicle manufacturer
Opportunity to work with Portland General Electric (PGE) and other stakeholders to support optimal siting for EV charging infrastructure
They partnered with Drive Oregon, a non-profit organization promoting EVs, in order to build the program.
Uber describes the EV Ambassador program:
“Part of Uber’s new initiative will be opportunities for drivers to serve as EV Ambassadors, a role in which they will help educate riders about the environmental and economic benefits and feasibility of electric vehicles. Drivers interested in participating are invited to share their name and contact information on a new microsite. Drive Oregon will train EV Ambassadors on how to effectively communicate with riders about the benefits of electric vehicles. In the first four months of Uber’s London electric vehicle pilot, 60 EVs gave rides to more than 35,000 riders.”
They will tailor the program to Oregon, which offers a lot of EV incentive, and they will also promote local EV manufacturer Arcimoto. I had a chance to test their all-electric three-wheeler in Las Vegas earlier this year.
Overall, it looks like a force for good to promote EVs. Hopefully, they expand this to other markets soon.