- Ride sharing service Uber recently announced a benchmark goal to shift 10% of its fleet in Portland, OR to electric vehicles by 2019, as reported by TechCrunch.
- The company said it chose Portland because of the city and state’s strong environmental laws. Portland recently announced a goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2050.
- Uber could use the PR boost in the Pacific Northwest. After the recent #DeleteUber campaign, Uber lost 18% of the ride sharing market in Portland.
Portland is more ready than most cities for electric vehicles to take over its roads. The city's airport has one of the largest charging stations in the country, the downtown area has an "Electric Avenue" with four popular 100% renewable energy charging stations and as many as 392 EV charging stations are placed throughout the city. Portland was also ranked the most electric car-friendly city in the United States last year, according to a study out of Indiana University.
About 100 of Portland's 6,000 Uber drivers already drive an electric vehicle, or less than 2% of the fleet. Xchange Leasing, Uber’s car leasing program, will help with getting Uber drivers into electric options like Nissan Leafs, for around $100 to $115 a week, according to Citylab. Uber’s Portland electric vehicle program will also have an Ambassador Program to educate riders about the benefits of electric cars. The company has tried out similar pilot programs in London, South Africa and Portugal, but Portland is Uber’s first stateside electric project.
Uber is also spreading it's innovative efforts to local groups like Drive Oregon, a non-profit group that promotes electric vehicles throughout the state, to with the Ambassador program. Another partner, Cynergy E-Bikes, is letting UberEATS delivery workers use their electric bikes.
This announcement comes as Uber deals with a rash of bad news, from critiques of Uber CEO’s Travis Kalanick working with the Trump presidency to the company being investigated by the city of Portland for software used to obstruct regulators. While this announcement is not intended to override negative attention, it will likely pull the company a bit out of the dog house. However Uber is not alone in its shift to electric vehicles in Portland. The city’s 100% renewable energy goal includes changing over city vehicles and public transit to electric-powered or biofuels. Additionally last December, BMW added 30 of its electric i3’s to its ReachNow car-rental service in Portland.