Uber: Incentives initiative for EV drivers

Uber has just announced a new initiative aimed at increasing the number of electric vehicles in their fleet. The programme is called EV Champions and the official goal is for Uber driver-partners to deliver at least 5 million EV rides over the next year. 

According to Uber's website, the programme kicks off at seven cities, as of today - Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Uber is known to offer incentives to drivers who choose to drive an EV. In London, UK, for example, EV drivers have access to a dedicated network of charging stations, which include stations at the major London airports (allowing drivers to charge while they queue). 

The Verge reports that Uber will provide incentives to drivers in the seven cities mentioned above. Some will receive additional financial incentives (San Diego and SF drivers will receive an extra dollar per EV trip completed, capped at 20$ / week), while others will receive educational assistance (Los Angeles). 

Interestingly, amidst a general push to reestablish themselves as the "good guy", Uber has also joined Veloz, a leading non-profit dedicated to addressing the needs for EV adoption and the unique needs of rideshare drivers with EVs in California. 

Although a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen to what extent this initiative will encourage Uber drivers to shift to EVs. It is essential to note that EVs, although eligible for a federal subsidy of $7,500, are still a very expensive asset to own. Indicatively, a battery powered Nissan Leaf (which is considered a cheaper alternative to Tesla's premium vehicles) starts at $29,990 before destination & handling charges, tax, title, and license fees. Additionally, reports of early battery degradation can make potential buyers / drivers even more skeptical, particularly if the vehicle is to be used as a taxi. 

Andrew Kyprianides