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San Diego Uber drivers can bank an extra $1 per trip if they use an electric vehicle, as the ride-hail company seeks to educate the public on the benefits of the cars, which emit less greenhouse gas.
The pilot program, known as the “EV Champions Initiative,” starts Tuesday in seven cities: San Diego, Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle. Incentives are specific to each market with the company testing different benefits around the country.
Locally, drivers can accrue a dollar-per-ride bonus for using plug-in hybrids or full battery electric vehicles, with a max payout of $20 per week. Similar $1-per-ride incentives are being offered in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, though drivers in Los Angeles won’t earn extra for the time being.
“Over the last year, we’ve met with hundreds of drivers across the U.S. and Canada who drive or are interested in driving EV on our network,” said Adam Gromis, Uber’s global head of sustainability. “While they love not paying for gas and being a part of automotive innovation, they also face challenges in losing fare-earning time to charge their vehicles, accessing adequate fast-charging stations in urban areas, and getting affordable access to higher mileage EVs.”
Uber says it will also provide both educational and operational assistance to its EV drivers. For instance, the company expects to break ground in the coming weeks on EV charging stations at its San Diego Greenlight Hub, a driver facility at 7310 Miramar Road. The firm has yet to determine the cost, if any, for drivers to use the charging stations.
The company has also tweaked its smartphone application to alert EV drivers of 30-minute-or-greater trips so they can plan accordingly. And, to raise awareness, the app will notify riders when they’re paired with an EV driver.
Uber’s program aligns with Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order, issued earlier this year, which calls on the state, currently home to 410,000 EVs, to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles to 5 million by 2030. As it stands, the transportation sector accounts for the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in California, or 37 percent, according to a 2015 report from the California Environmental Protection Agency.