Soon, Uber will have more electric bikes and scooters hitting the pavement.
CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the Financial Times that the company plans to shift its focus from cars to these two-wheeled vehicles for shorter, inner-city rides as part of its long-term strategy.
Khosrowshahi explained that the reprioritization would make sense in urban areas as “it is very inefficient for a one-ton hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks” during rush hour. “We’re able to shape behavior in a way that’s a win for the user,” he continued. “It’s a win for the city.”
Nevertheless, Khosrowshahi conceded that in the short-term the company would likely take a hit, in addition to the already $4.5 billion in losses it had last year. Rates are lower per mile for scooters and bikes than cars, which will translate to decreased profits. “Short-term financially, maybe it’s not a win for us,” he explained, “but strategically long term we think that is exactly where we want to head.”
Khosrowshahi also acknowledged that the shift would have an impact on Uber drivers, who already face low wages. But over the longer term, Khosrowshahi argued that drivers would ultimately be hired for more lucrative longer rides, while facing less congested roads.
“When I’ve spoken to our driver partners about it, the first impression was, why are you bringing in a bike to compete against me?” he said. “The second impression after the conversation is, oh, I get a longer ride where I can make more money? Sign me up.”
Uber first added electric bikes in February and acquired bike-sharing company Jump in April. Jump is currently available in eight cities across the U.S.