PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Seventeen million cars were sold last year in the United States, but less than one percent were electric vehicles.
Locally, Uber is teaming up with Duquesne Light to change that.
“Pittsburgh is really the first city where we have substantially been able to make investments in all three technologies that many experts are talking about as the three key technologies for transportation to do its job with regard to the environment,” says Adam Gromis.
In a Skype interview from San Francisco with KDKA money editor Jon Delano, Gromis, global lead on sustainability for Uber, said those technologies are shared vehicles — what Uber does every day — autonomous or self-driving vehicles — that Uber is demonstrating in Pittsburgh — and more electric vehicles.
“Most consumers have no idea what’s an electric vehicle,” says Gromis. “They couldn’t tell you a make or model that was an electric vehicle. This is true for most consumers, and it’s been true for the last decade.”
That’s where Duquesne Light comes in.
One barrier to more EVs is lack of charging stations, the equivalent of a gas pump.
“We have roughly anywhere between 120 and 130 charging stations in the greater Pittsburgh area,” says Joe DeMatteo of Duquesne Light.
“I think importantly though, we have very few fast charging stations.”
DeMatteo says Duquesne Light will increase the number of quick charging stations, which should make consumers more comfortable buying fuel-efficient and cheaper electric vehicles — including Uber drivers who use their own vehicles.
“We’re looking to increase the number of Uber EV drivers hopefully by 50 over the new two years,” notes DeMatteo.
And for the environmentally conscious, at some point in the future, Pittsburgh customers could opt for an Uber EV driver.
“If you landed in Paris today with your Uber app on,” says Gromis, “you would see an option for Uber Green.”
“If you clicked it, you’d see a hybrid or an electric vehicle show up.”
Now, again, this app is not available in the United States yet.
But perhaps Pittsburgh can be the first city to offer it.
The key is getting more people, including Uber drivers, to buy electric vehicles.
And that depends on plenty of charging stations to keep their cars charged.