A handful of Uber drivers in London are now driving fully electric cars as part of a new three-month study.
The San Francisco taxi-hailing company, which already has thousands of hybrid Toyota Prius cars in London, has teamed up with Nissan and Chinese car firm BYD to offer Uber drivers the chance to buy Nissan Leaf vehicles or BYD 6 vehicles at “great rates.”
Uber said it expects to have more than 50 fully rechargeable Nissan Leafs or BYD 6s on London’s roads by the end of September. An Uber spokesman was unable to confirm exactly how much Uber drivers will have to pay to get one of the electric vehicles.
The company has partnered with The Energy Saving Trust — a UK company that aims to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the sustainable use of energy — to observe its electric vehicle programme over the next three months.
Uber said the study will look into the feasibility of running large numbers of electric private hire vehicles in the UK. If the programme is successful, then Uber said it expects to see hundreds of electric Ubers on London’s roads by next year.
Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the UK, said in a statement that Uber is “determined” to help tackle the challenge of air pollution in London and across the UK. Bertram went on to claim that Uber’s car-sharing service has already saved more than 1.3 million miles and 231 metric tonnes of CO2.
“People already associate Uber with hybrid cars, but we now want to go a big step further with fully electric cars on the road from today,” said Bertram.
“Of course there are challenges ahead. A bigger roll out of fully electric cars needs a good network of charging points and the economics must add up for drivers too.”
At least one other UK city will see an Uber electric vehicle programme this autumn, Uber said. Uber’s only other electric vehicle programme was launched in Portugal in March.
The London electric vehicle programme comes as Uber goes head-to-head with Transport for London (TfL) over a proposed English language test for all Uber drivers in the capital. It also comes as Uber pushes ahead with a $300 million (£229 million) autonomous vehicle programme that it’s running in conjunction with Swedish car manufacturer Volvo.