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‘I met my therapist doing Uber’

What’s it really like driving an electric car? We quiz real London drivers on what they love (and don’t love) about their EVs

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ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.
ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.

Uber driver Francesca Siema with her Kia E-Niro

/ Francesca Siema
19 August 2022

Francesca Siema, 34, an Italian neuroscientist and mother of three, has been driving an Uber for five years

Have you had anyone famous in the back of your car? Blair Davie, the singer. I have these bottles of water in the car to stay hydrated and he started talking about how important that was for his singing. He’s starting to do festivals and opening for other acts – we swapped Instagram details.

What car do you drive? I drove a Prius for a bit less than three years, a Galaxy for two months but the fuel prices made no sense, then a Hyundai Kona for a year and a half and the Kia E-Niro since March. It’s beautiful, like driving your iPhone – all the gadgets, sensors and alerts and it’s smooth and silent.

Do you suffer from range anxiety? With one full charge I get 300 miles, which is two full days’ work. I could go to Wales and back.

Do you miss petrol? It’s like comparing a new and an old laptop – both work, you can get the job done but if you want to make your job as easy as possible you want the newer one. Old-school cars take longer to do everything ‒ even putting a petrol car into reverse takes longer.

Do people pour their hearts out to you? Sometimes. I don’t get into my riders’ business unless they volunteer. Once I was taking a girl and I heard from her phone conversation that she was getting herself into a dangerous situation and she was not comfortable. I turned the car around and drove her back for free.

The worst thing? A girl was sick on my car from the outside but didn’t tell me

Why did you decide to drive an Uber? I have three children so I struggle working for other people. My husband has a music business but he drives, too, so he does 6am-11am while I drop the kids to school then do Uber, then it calms down for 4-5 hours so we do studying and our other business. He picks up kids from school then we alternate nights.

Do all Uber drivers have a side hustle? 100%. We meet up at charging stations and swap stories.

What’s the best thing that’s happened as a driver? I met my therapist doing Uber. He’s amazing. I took his contact and ended up going to therapy – I’m a mother of three, man I need it. And I have a special-needs son and he works with him, too.

What’s the worst? I picked up these really drunk girls. I was really nice for them, stopped for McDonald’s and everything. Then they got out and one was sick on my car from the outside but didn’t tell me. The next rider had to point it out.

What would make your life easier? We do need more chargers. The infrastructure is not there. If I have to go to an emergency charger, it can be hard to find. Also, roadworks. You can have these traffic lights taking seven minutes now, creating traffic and more pollution. There’s no sense in having a congestion charge if you do that.