UTILITY DIVE | As part of a broader sustainability announcement, Uber signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with EVgo to research ways to accelerate use of electric vehicles (EVs) on the ride-sharing platform.
The first phase of the agreement will focus on making it easier for Uber’s current EV drivers to access EVgo’s public fast chargers. The partners will also conduct several pilot programs to assess where more chargers are needed and how to make it easier for Uber drivers to use EVs on the platform.
Uber also committed to publicly disclosing the environmental impact of its rides through regular reports on sustainability progress, and to powering all of its U.S. offices with 100% renewable energy.
There’s been much debate over whether ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are taking car trips off the road or simply adding more vehicle miles traveled, leaving the industry’s environmental impact a virtual unknown. Whatever Uber’s study discovers, getting more electric vehicles on the road is key to making the industry more green.
Uber has already taken steps to encourage use of EVs through efforts like its “EV Champions Initiative,” which offered cash incentives for drivers to switch to electric cars and tweaked its app for EV drivers. Lyft has also slowly rolled out a “green mode” to help riders select hybrid and electric vehicles.
But a crucial element to getting drivers into EVs is making sure infrastructure will support them, which means more chargers in places and times that can fit into their driving schedule. EVgo Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Jonathan Levy said that based on the company’s research, most ride-share drivers don’t have home chargers, and relying on public infrastructure can be inconvenient and time consuming if there are not available fast chargers.
“We can share with Uber and our partners where stations are available and when, and we can think about how driving behavior is impacted by availability of charging,” Levy told Smart Cities Dive. “If we know a lot of drivers need to charge at a certain time or in a certain area, like an airport, we can build out there. We’re just getting started on that with today’s MOU.”
EVgo has a national network of more than 1,200 DC fast chargers in 66 metropolitan markets, making it the largest public fast charging network. The company has already reached partnerships with General Motors’ Maven Gig and partners with retailers to place chargers in convenient spots. In May, the company committed to 100% renewable power.
In addition to its EV efforts, Uber also touted its efforts to “support cities and increase car-free travel,” including putting more public transit options on its app and investing more in shared bikes and scooters.
Author Jason Plautz