Uber said it hears the future coming, and it's relatively quiet.
This week the company announced a yearlong program to provide up to 5 million electric-vehicle (EV) rides through its ride-sharing app in a small number of North American cities.
The so-called "EV Champions Initiative" will roll out in Austin, Texas; Los Angeles; Montreal; Sacramento, California; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle. Similar programs were already launched in Portland, Oregon, and Pittsburgh.
According to the Los Angeles Times, drivers in certain cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh may earn up to $1 per ride bonuses, up to $20 in a week, for providing EV rides. Uber drivers in Los Angeles don't get the bonus, according to the report.
Uber announced that they would partner with a broad range of nonprofits, thinktanks, and a university to study EV usage in those cities.
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In addition to bonuses for driving EVs in select cities, Uber said it would help steer drivers toward applicable federal, state, local, and utility incentives to partially offset the cost of purchasing the cars. In Canada, Uber will provide ride-sharing EV drivers with membership in AVEQ, which offers lower insurance premiums and advocates for wide-spread EV adoption.
The Uber app also will advise EV drivers of trips taking 30 minutes or longer to help mitigate range concerns.
Uber will also make available information about EVs for drivers who want to help educate others about EV ownership and adoption.
The ride-sharing company didn't specify what electric vehicles would be eligible for the program, or whether they would include plug-in hybrid vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius Prime.