Uber is encouraging its drivers to lease electric cars
Electric cars are hitting the road for Uber. Drivers in London Wednesday debuted electric cars supported by Uber through a new partnership. Manufacturers BYD and Nissan are offering Uber drivers in London discounted leases to encourage drivers to get electric cars on the road. The first of those cars started driving in London Wednesday, and Uber hopes to have 50 on its app by the end of September. Uber has supported smaller initiatives for electric cars in Chicago and Portugal, but this program in London is one of its biggest.
As part of the initiative, the UK energy efficiency group Energy Saving Trust will conduct a three-month study into the feasibility of introducing electric vehicles to Uber's fleet in large numbers. Research will cover the driving patterns and economics of drivers using electric cars as well as the capacity of London's network of charging points.
If that study proves the program's feasibility, Uber wants to have hundreds of electric vehicles operating in London by next year.
Uber is touting its electric car program as part of broader energy saving initiatives, including the growth of UberPool to encourage passengers to share rides.
“We are determined to use technology to help tackle the challenge of air pollution in London and across the UK," Regional General Manager of Uber in the UK Jo Bertram said in a statement. "Our car-sharing service has already saved more than 1.3 million miles and 231 metric tonnes of CO2. With electric vehicles - and more people sharing their journey and leaving their own cars at home - there's even more we can do."
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Uber is wrapped up in challenges in London right now. The company is suing the city over regulations set to take effect October 1 that will require drivers to pass a written English test, but will also force Uber itself to notify the city of changes to its app and set up a 24/7 call center within London.
Uber seems to be hoping its climate efforts in London could convince Transport for London, the body controlling these regulations, of its benefits to the city.
"We look forward to seeing the results [of the feasibility study] and sharing the findings with the government, Transport for London and the mayor," Bertram said.