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Uber, Duquesne Light to add electric vehicles, charging stations in Pittsburgh

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, 10:06 a.m.
Uber and Duquesne Light Company are partnering to put more electric vehicles on the road and more charging stations in Pittsburgh. (File photo)
AFP/Getty Images
Uber and Duquesne Light Company are partnering to put more electric vehicles on the road and more charging stations in Pittsburgh. (File photo)

Uber and Duquesne Light Co. want to put more electric vehicles on the road and more charging stations around Pittsburgh.

The companies announced Wednesday that they want to add 50 electric vehicles to Uber's network and install at least five charging stations over the next two years.

Both will invest in the initiative, not in each other's companies, Uber spokesman Craig Ewer said.

“Finding ways to unlock more shared, electric and automated mobility is critical for cities to realize a more sustainable future,” Adam Gromis, Uber's Global Lead on Sustainability, said in a statement. “Through this new partnership with DLC, we can start to address this challenge at the local level and join the charge to promote the delivery of more EV-miles throughout Pittsburgh and beyond.”

Ewer said the number of Uber drivers in electric vehicles basically mirrors the national numbers of electric vehicles. Less than 1 percent of car owners have an electric vehicle, meaning about 50 of the more than 5,000 Uber drivers in Pennsylvania use an electric vehicle. Uber's entire fleet of self-driving cars are plug-in hybrid vehicles running off both gasoline and electricity.

Electric vehicles have been slow to catch on but are gaining in popularity. Last year was the best year for electric vehicle sales, according to Inside EVs , an electric vehicle news website.

Nearly 200,000 electric vehicles were sold nationwide in 2017, a 25 percent jump over 2016, but they were still only a fraction of the more than 17 million new cars sold. There are only about 9,100 electric vehicles on Pennsylvania roads, according to Plug In America , a nonprofit supporting electric vehicle use.

About a year ago, Duquesne Light Co. launched its electric vehicle initiative to add more to its fleet. The city wants to add six or seven electric vehicles to its fleet by the end of the year and is considering buying several electric police cruisers. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants the entire city fleet to go electric by 2030 .

Duquesne Light recently donated two fast-charging stations to the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and installed them in parking lots surrounding the stadiums on the North Shore. The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University have charging stations in parking garages across their campuses. Bakery Square, home to Google's Pittsburgh office, has charging stations in its parking garage.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike installed five charging stations in 2014 but three years later, they get little use , an analysis by the Tribune-Review found.

There are 156 charging stations around Pittsburgh, according to www.chargehub.com .

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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