Uber is putting its collective foot on the gas pedal, looking to speed up growth in North Carolina.

On Thursday, the aggressive startup disclosed plans for expanding its ride-sharing service to much of coastal Carolina just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

Uber, which is hiring drivers across much of the state at a rapid rate because of what it says is grgowing demand, said service will begin at 5 p.m. Friday across the Outer Banks and down to Atlantic Beach, adding some 25 communities.

Uber is expanding as well service in the Wilmington area to include Carolina Beach, Oak Island and Wrightsville Beach.

The company says it already has hired 8,000 drivers across North Carolina, including the Triangle, in 20 months that it has been offering service.

According to Uber, its UberX service offers rates that average 19 percent less than those charged by taxis.

Here’s a Q&S with Uber North Carolina General Manager Arathi Mehrotra about the new service and other issues, such as proposed regulation of ride-sharing services in the so-called “shared economy.”

  • Why does Uber see coastal areas as possible growth target?

With Memorial Day weekend being the unofficial launch of summer – and a weekend when tons of people flock to the beach – there’s no better time to expand our footprint across the East Coast and begin service in several North Carolina beach towns.

What we’ve noticed is that there is a real demand for Uber in beach towns across the East Coast. Being a technology company, we are able to see when users are opening up the Uber app in a particular location,like the Outer Banks, looking for a safe ride.

Residents and visitors in cities – whether Raleigh or Beaufort – deserve access to more choice in transportation, and we wanted riders who have come to love and depend on Uber elsewhere, and those that have not yet given us a try, to have that same choice when in North Carolina’s beach towns.

  • Have you been recruiting drivers for some time. What was the response? Can you give me an idea of how many people signed up as drivers? What are demographics?

We’ve seen a really positive response from local drivers who want to partner with Uber in beach towns across the East Coast. Whether you’re a retiree looking to make some extra income or a student in need of a full-time summer job, Uber is an incredibly flexible opportunity, enabling drivers to work whenever and wherever they choose.

  • You recently said you are actively seeking drivers across the state and say business is growing. Are more people signing up? Is growth continuing?

We’ve provided over 2 million rides in North Carolina since we launched, and we continue to grow rapidly, adding more and more driver-partners every month. We’re excited to provide even more North Carolinians with economic opportunity, while simultaneously providing a safe, affordable way to move around town for residents and visitors alike.

  • Airbnb has agreed to begin paying taxes and fees in Wake, Durham and other parts of NC. Where does Uber stand on these regulation issues?

We look forward to continuing to work with officials to craft sensible, common sense ridesharing regulations.