A new pilot project will see Uber drivers in the United States get paid incentives to switch to electric vehicles, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Unless we can be delivering a more efficient form of mobility, we won’t be providing a good solution that cities need. That’s why we’ve gone into bikes. That’s why we’re working with transit. That’s why we’re focused on electrification,” said Uber head of sustainability Adam Gromis.

Drivers of EVs in Los Angeles aren’t eligible for financial perks as part of this pilot programme; however Uber plans to provide them with educational assistance. The ride-sharing company plans to notify drivers of EV ownership benefits which include state rebates, the South California Edison clean fuel rebate, high occupancy vehicle-lane access for single-occupant vehicles and Los Angeles-specific rebates on EV chargers.

The company has also updated their mobile app to alert EV drivers of trips that may last 30 minutes or longer, so that they can plan their drives accordingly. Conversely, the app will also notify riders (passengers) when they’ve been paired with an EV driver, the report said.

As Uber and its partner researchers gather more information on what benefits appeal the most to EV drivers, the data will be shared will policymakers and Uber will eventually ‘commit larger dollars’ to the effort, Gromis said.

The pilot programme will take place in seven cities across the North America, according to The Verge – Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle, while cash incentives for drivers making the switch to electric power will vary from city to city.

In Sacramento, local publicly-owned utility SMUD is offering US$1.25 (RM5) per trip that is completed in a zero-emissions vehicle, which Uber will round up to US$1.50 (RM6), and driver will gain access to free vehicle charging via SMUD’s network of DC fast-chargers. Drivers of EVs and PHEVs taking trips outside the utility’s coverage area will still receive the US$1.50-per-trip incentive from Uber, the report noted.

In San Diego and San Francisco, Uber plans to pay PHEV and EV drivers US$1 (RM4) per trip, and EV charging stations will be installed at Uber’s San Diego Greenlight hub in the coming weeks. Maximum payouts will be US$20 a week. Drivers in Pittsburgh will also receive US$1 per EV or PHEV trip. Drivers in LA won’t receive financial benefits for their EV journeys, but will gain ‘educational assistance’ from Uber, The Verge said.

Lyft does not yet have a similar EV programme, according to the Los Angeles Times, but the Uber competitor claimed to have made a multi-billion dollar investment in purchasing carbon offsets, and that every Lyft ride in the US in now carbon-neutral. The company has close to 100,000 EVs in its network, a spokesperson told the daily.