Despite making a name for itself in the ride hailing industry, Uber has recently declared that it is shifting more of its focus towards light electric vehicles including electric bicycles and scooters. In another step towards that goal, Uber has announced that it plans to install electric bicycle charging stations for its own brand of Jump electric bicycles.
Uber purchased the electric bicycle-sharing company Jump earlier this year in a $100M acquisition deal that marked the company’s entry into the shared e-bike and e-scooter market.
Originally, Jump electric bicycles were routinely collected by the company and brought back to a central location for charging.
Now Uber has announced their plans to install electric bicycle charging stations that will improve the usability of the bikes and keep more bikes on the road.
The company plans to begin testing the new electric bicycle charging stations in Sacramento, where they have partnered with the city, according to VentureBeat.
As explained by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi:
“We’re partnering closely with public entities including the Sacramento Regional Transit District, Sacramento Council of Governments and California State University, Sacramento, to make e-bikes a viable option for everyday use, whether that’s commuting to your job or getting to and from public transportation.”
Uber’s Jump bikes are dockless, and thus don’t need to be returned to a specific location after each use. Riders can simply drop them anywhere. However, Uber plans to install their electric bicycle charging stations in popular locations to encourage users to leave them on a charger.
Scoobi and Scoot, two sit-on electric scooter share companies in Pittsburgh and San Francisco use an incentive program to encourage riders to park their dockless scooters at special charging stations spread across the city. Riders who park at a charging station receive a discount on their trip, which could be a method Uber will employ for their own electric bicycle charging stations.
As Uber joins the ranks of other stand-on electric scooter share programs that currently operate around the US, they will likely face similar issues regarding charging of their scooters. Currently, such companies pay individuals who sign up as human chargers to collect the scooters at night and charge them in their homes or apartments.
Public charging stations could help alleviate the issue and keep more electric bicycles and scooters available for public use.