In a number of places around the world you may have noticed that a lot of the local taxi services are dominated by the Prius. The hybrid car is clearly very popular for a number of reasons, including things like improved mileage, regenerative braking, and the long held opinion that they're more environmentally conscious. Uber would like drivers to go a bit further, though, and it's just launched a pilot programme that will pay drivers if they start using a fully electric car.
The EV Champions Initiative is pilot programme limited to seven North American cities for the time being (Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle), alongside the existing Uber testground of Pittsburgh. The idea is that drivers will be offered "direct monetary incentives" if they start driving an electric car, though how much drivers are likely to receive will vary.
According to the LA Times drivers in San Diego, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco will get an extra $1 per journey, though San Diego also comes with a $20 weekly cap. Doesn't sound like much of a huge incentive if you ask me, and it's not the kind of money that's likely to convince existing drivers to upgrade to an EV. Especially not when you consider recharging an EV take a lot longer than refilling a fuel tank.
Uber says there are other perks as well, including education and guidance to help drivers find other incentives and appropriate tax rebates, while Montreal drivers will be able to join EV advocacy groups that offer cheaper insurance. The Uber app will also include EV-specific features, including pointing out 30+ minute journey times to ensure drivers can better plan their recharging.
Uber notes that it's already completed successful trials in Pittsburgh and Portland, so this is simply the next step. If things all go well, it's quite likely that this will be rolled out elsewhere - presumably across the US and Canada before spreading internationally. You're not likely to get picked up by a Tesla anytime soon, but give it a year or two and you might find yourself being picked up by a car humming along like a TIE fighter in a library. [Uber via Engadget]