WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- Uber wants to roll out more electric vehicles in London but London’s lack of EV infrastructure means it’s got to build its own network
Uber, who’ve been facing numerous setbacks recently from scandals to crashes that caused it to suspend its self-driving car program just last month, have announced they’re expanding their relationship with Nissan, who recently tested it’s self-driving cars around the UK’s capital, and increase their fleet of electric vehicles in London.
The two companies have announced their commitment to deliver an additional 100 Nissan LEAF EV’s, trebling the number of electric vehicles (EV) available via Uber’s app, and to power them Uber has announced that it’s going to build its own EV charging network.
Last August Uber announced it had teamed up with Nissan and another car maker, China’s BYD, then, in the following months the company offered its top rated drivers a mix of zero emission BYD E6s and Nissan LEAF EV’s. But now BYD is no longer part of the pilot and Nissan, who make it’s LEAF in Sunderland in the UK, is firmly in the driving seat.
Before Uber announced the new scheme though the UK’s Energy Saving Trust (EST) conducted a three month feasibility study of the program to assess its impact. The early conclusions of the project showed that over 35,000 riders took a trip in a fully electric car, saving half a metric tonne of nitrous oxide and 22 metric tonnes of CO2 compared to a hybrid cars. But the report also highlighted a number of issues with London’s current EV charging infrastructure and found that drivers were hampered by a lack of fast charging stations in central London where there were just a paltry three available. This explains why Uber is now investing in building out its own EV charging network.
To begin with, Uber says the new EV charging points will only be available to drivers who use the Uber app, which doesn’t help fix London’s availability issue in the short term, but the company says it open them up for others to use in the future.
“We believe that new technology can help tackle the challenge of air pollution in the capital. Londoners already associate Uber with hybrid cars, but we want to go even further with more drivers switching to fully electric ones,” said Jo Bertram, Regional General Manager of Uber UK.
“Our vision is for mass adoption of fully electric cars as private hire vehicles but there are some really big challenges we need to overcome. Charging cars can be costly for drivers and there’s a serious lack of rapid charging points in central London. We hope the Mayor’s forthcoming transport strategy will lead to more chargers which private hire drivers can use.”