Hybrid and electric only for Uber drivers in London

11 September 2017

11 September 2017

Uber drivers in London will be banned from using vehicles that are not hybrid or electric from 2020, as the company looks to help the city reduce its high levels of air pollution.

Less than half of UberX drivers in the UK capital drive a vehicle with some form of electrification, according to the ride-hailing company. By the end of the decade, this must rise to 100%. Diesel-powered cars on the application’s other services, such as UberXL will also be banned under the plans. Other UK cities where pollution levels are high will also see a ban come into place, although this will be enforced from 2022.

The company said it was prioritising London as the city has a particularly severe problem with particulate pollution and toxic gases from vehicles. Fred Jones, Uber’s head of UK cities, added: ′Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan.’

Uber is not expecting its 40,000 licenced drivers to switch to an electrified vehicle without financial help, and will offer a grant of up to £5,000 for those who are willing to trade their vehicle in for an electric or hybrid vehicle. The grants will be funded with £2m from the company but users of the app will also pay for the switchover, through a 35p surcharge imposed on all London trips from October.

The news comes as the London Electric Vehicle Company (formally the London Taxi Company) launches its zero-emission black cab and the city offers drivers the opportunity to switch. Uber’s plan could begin a ′green taxi war’ where companies will look to offer their services while benefitting the city.

Meanwhile LeasePlan, Nissan and Uber have announced a new sustainability initiative to take place in Amsterdam. The technology company will launch a pilot with electric cars, provided by LeasePlan, in the Dutch capital. The first 30 Nissan Leafs will run via UberX from the beginning of October 2017, with drivers being able to lease the car under LeasePlan terms.

Additionally, drivers will be able to sign up for a charging load credit from Fastned, a new company which runs fast-charging stations along major highways. Energy company Nuon will also help drivers find convenient charging stations close to their homes. The aim is to have more than 200 electric cars operational by the end of 2018.

For Erik Henstra, Managing Director LeasePlan Nederland NV, the pilot is closely aligned with LeasePlan’s broader goals of achieving net zero emissions from the automotive sector by 2030 and supporting the shift to a ′cars as a service’ model of ownership. He comments: ′Uber and Nissan are valuable partners for LeasePlan in our efforts to make mobility more sustainable and accessible.’

Photograph courtesy of iStock