In an attempt to tackle London’s air pollution problem, Uber is joining the push towards electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its Clean Air Plan. The ride-hailing company plans to introduce a new fee, expected to add an additional 15p per mile, by early 2019.
Uber said that drivers working for 40 hours per week could get cash help of about £1,500 a year from the fee. The firm said this additional fee would add about 45p to the average London journey.
The company said it expected the scheme to raise more than £200 million over the “next few years” to help drivers make the transition to EVs. It also said it hopes to hand cash to 20,000 drivers by 2021 and achieve a full workforce conversion by 2025.
Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said in a statement that the plan was a “long-term investment in the future of London aimed at going all EVs in the capital in 2025”.
He added, “Over time, it’s our goal to help people replace their car with their phone by offering a range of mobility options – whether cars, bikes, scooters or public transport – all in the Uber app”.
Initiative Follows Government Cuts
The company said that the new fee would build on established partnerships to improve London’s electric vehicle infrastructure, which has led to the installation of additional charging points.
This follows the UK Government’s decision to trim subsidies for buying greener cars. As of the 9th of November, grants for plug-in hybrids will stop, while grants for all-electric cars will decrease from £4,500 to £3,500.
Although the move has been welcomed some have already speculated how effective it will be and whether the cash boost will be enough for drivers to buy an EV. Professor David Bailey, an expert in industrial strategy from Aston University told the BBC “Uber is not doing this out of the goodness of its hearts”.
Bailey explained that larger proposals to tackle air pollution will place greater restrictions on the type of vehicle that can pass through it.
“If they don’t act they risk not having any drivers or customers,” he said.
The high cost of electric vehicles and a lack of adequate charging infrastructure, Bailey noted, were still significant barriers to the adoption of EVs. Bailey suggests that by allowing drivers to keep a greater portion of fares, the uptake of EVs could be improved.