In its attempt to race ahead of other manufacturers in bringing advanced and greener transportation technology to the masses, Uber is launching a fleet of electric cars in UK. In partnership with Nissan and China’s BYD, the company is launching a scheme where drivers can lease fully-electric cars. In short, UK streets may soon be witness to a fleet of electric taxis.
The cars that will be available for leasing include BYD E6s and Nissan Leafs. Interestingly, they are not for sale, which is how Uber often does things in the US, and instead are available only for lease.
Speaking to TechCrunch, a spokesperson from Uber said,
The cars through this partnership are for rent, not for purchase, and will be at rates lower than the cheapest rentals in the market for other private hire vehicles. Obviously running costs are quite a bit lower too – although how much lower obviously depends what car they are switching from.
The BYD E6s is an all-electric MPV manufactured by BYD Auto and field tested in China in 2010. The car has a range of 300 km(186 miles), according to the car maker. It also has a fast charging battery that goes from 0 to 80 percent in 15 minutes and is being used in China, the US and soon, in the UK as well.
Nissan Leaf on the other hand, is a 5-door hatchback that was introduced in Japan and the United States in December 2010. The car was later also introduced to various European countries and Canada in 2011. The car has range of 172 km(107 miles) on a single charge and can go from 0 to 80 percent in 30 minutes. The car is hugely popular as electric cars go and is actually the world’s all-time best selling highway-capable all-electric car, having sold 228,000 units sold worldwide since 2010.
Meanwhile, the company hopes to have around 50 vehicles charged and running in London in the coming months. Assuming that the attempt is deemed a success, the company will then be expanding the service to another UK city. Uber hopes to introduce a fleet made of electric and non-electric cars all over the UK, very very soon.
And of course, there is the issue of pollution as well. Uber’s upcoming fleet will be much more environment friendly — indeed, The Leaf in Nissan Leaf stands for leading environmentally-friendly affordable family car — and with Uber deploying more electric cars in its fleet, it certainly good news for mother nature and an example for other cab companies to follow.
Speaking on the topic, Jo Betram, the GM for Uber in the UK said,
We are determined to use technology to help tackle the challenge of air pollution in London and across the UK. 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.
Well, the move is certainly awesome and bespeaks of the company’s capabilities in the direction. By leasing cars to drivers, Uber will encourage them to buy electric cars of its own, which will then benefit the company. After all, what is everyone do when there is no gasoline left at the petrol pumps. Sure, that time may be far away, however we are slowly getting there.
Andrew Benfield, Group Director of Transport at the Energy Saving Trust, in a statement said,
We are delighted to be working with Uber to help realise and build upon their ambition to add a significant number of electric vehicles to their app, We hope that this trial represents an important step in Uber’s contribution towards the wider efforts to improve air quality in the capital – the benefits of which will be felt by all.
The trust will be helping Uber with monitoring the feasibility of running large numbers of electric vehicles on a private hire basis in the UK. Its certainly not the first time that Uber is testing the cars in live conditions. The company started offering electric cars as part of its UberX service in Chicago, where it offered rides in relatively smaller, electric vehicles. However it is the first time that it is bringing, larger cars into the foray
The company is already all fired up about AI, where its entering into partnership, making acquisitions and going ahead with launches, such as the one in the Pittsburgh. Well, if you want to take a cab to the future, Uber is definitely leagues ahead of competition as things stand now. However, with car manufacturers and other tech behemoths entering into partnership with cab aggregators, it is going to be a tough race.