According to transport experts, the automobile of tomorrow will be shared, electric and self-driving. At all events, that's certainly the goal being pursued by Uber. The ride-hailing platform essentially meets the first of these three criteria with its POOL option. The San Francisco-based company has never made a secret of its intention to develop autonomous vehicles, whether we're talking about passenger cars or trucks. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently announced that self-driving cars would feature as part of its network by mid-2019 and that Uber has joined a coalition of companies that have set out to investigate the impact of driverless vehicles and convince potential users and legislators that they are the way to go. So what about the electric drive criterion? Uber has just made an official commitment to develop a 'greener' fleet, starting with a pilot programme called EV Champions Initiative, whose aim is to provide financial incentives for Uber drivers to run electric vehicles. Seven towns, four of them – Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento – in California, plus Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Montreal in Canada, are participating in the initiative. Each individual market will decide on the appropriate reward for the drivers. For instance, in San Diego and San Francisco, EV drivers will receive one dollar per journey. The associated app will inform the drivers when the journey is expected to last more than 30 minutes so that they can make sure that the battery is sufficiently charged and will also make passengers aware of the environmental benefits of the electric ride they are about to take. Uber has set a target of five million 'green' journeys over the next twelve months as a result of the EV incentive programme. This will surely help the company to reduce its carbon footprint – providing of course that the electricity used is generated from renewable energy sources – and also to help burnish its reputation after a somewhat chaotic 2017. The initiative might also help the State of California to fulfill its green mobility ambitions: 1.5 million EVs on California's roads by 2025 or, according to the State governor's wish, 5 million by 2030.
By Sophia Qadiri