In an exclusive video interview, Uber Canada’s GM says the ride-hailing giant is looking to customers and the public to support the switch, and that its goal of 100 per cent EV use by 2030 in North American cities applies to those with “supportive EV policies”
Uber’s plan to have a zero-emission fleet in Canada by 2030 rests on taking the financial burden of switching to EVs off the shoulders of its drivers as much as possible.
In an exclusive interview with Electric Autonomy Canada, Matthew Price, general manager for Uber Canada, details how the ride-hailing platform plans to help shape policy and generate partnerships that lower the cost of adoption for drivers.
An important piece in this strategy involves passing on some of the cost of EV adoption to its passengers — a shift he says those consumers are willing to accept.
“It’s important that the economic burden of moving towards electric vehicles doesn’t fall on the driver,” Price says.
Extending EV benefits
“By incentivizing the movement towards high-utilization and commercial applications, what you do is you extend the benefits of EVs to people who can’t necessarily afford or don’t want their own electric vehicle, but they are willing to pay for a trip in an electric vehicle. That really can help to catalyze the change.”
This interview follows Uber’s statement last week that its goal, by 2030, is that 100 per cent of rides in Uber vehicles in U.S., Canadian and European cities would be in electric vehicles, and that the company would be a fully zero-emission platform by 2040. In his comments, Price clarifies that the 2030 goal applies to “cities with supportive policies.”
To get there, Price says Uber has dedicated $800 million to its Clean Future Program. It is also expanding its Uber Green program into North America. Previously available in Europe, Uber Green allows riders to opt in for a $1 surcharge to hail a zero-emission vehicle. Those additional funds are then redirected into the pockets of drivers and back into the fund itself — which drivers can draw from to assist their transition into EVs.
“How much of the $800 million comes to Canada is really dependent on how successful we are at bringing down those barriers [to EV access for drivers],” Price says. “Uber drivers today [are] five times as likely as your average car on the road to be in an electric or hybrid vehicle. So, they’ve found ways themselves to fund and make the transition because economically, for some of them, it makes sense. The incentive is only an added catalyst to help us move further along.”
Partnership with GM Canada
Uber Canada has also partnered with General Motors of Canada to offer a $3,000 discount to Uber drivers who purchase a new Chevrolet Bolt.
“This is our first partnership,” Price says. “What we’re going to need is a diverse set of partnerships that bring down the cost of vehicles and the cost of charging for drivers.”
Price draws on examples of Uber’s existing partnerships in Europe as examples of models that could be implemented in Canada. In the UK, BP provides dedicated charging hubs to Uber drivers across London, and in France, charging discounts are provided to Uber drivers through utility provider EDF.
“It’s important as Uber that we stand on our learnings globally, we bring them to Canada, and we engage in the dialogue with government and the private sector to work together to make this green future,” Price says.
He also mentions the importance of micro-mobility to Uber’s plans — no surprise, given that Uber led a new round of funding for Lime this spring. “Micro-mobility has been slow to come to Canada because of restrictive policies and regulation… we’re going to continue to advocate for that future because we think that is also a key component to provide people multiple modes to get from A to B and ultimately help them choose the most efficient but also the cleanest journey to get there,” says Price.
In addition, he flags charging availability as the first barrier to be crossed in accelerating EV uptake and says the company sees it is a place where Uber can partner with governments effectively. Uber’s main focus, he says, is “home and near-home charging, for low-income drivers, but also the urban fast-charging stations for drivers, transit [and] goods delivery networks.”
This article is a snapshot of the conversation. To view the full interview, watch the video.