Uber has put its weight behind London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s proposals for higher road charges, as it unveiled plans to expand zero-emissions cab services.
The ride-hailing firm said it more than doubled the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on its app in London to 5,000 last year, which will allow it to widen its Uber Green service – where users can only use EV drivers. Can request – from the city center to cover the whole of Greater London in the spring.
Uber’s UK boss said its increase in EVs was up to Meyer’s “strong leadership” and added that the firm “absolutely supported” Khan in his plan to impose higher fees to reduce congestion and pollution.
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said the firm had committed to making the capital fully electric by 2025, adding: “We were able to do this because the mayor has shown strong leadership in electrification. London and trying to manage things like overcrowding and pollution.
“We have spent a great deal of time over the past four years bent on engaging with the momentum the mayor has built to support our drivers.”
Uber’s London license comes up for renewal in March. After Transport for London initially rejected its application due to security concerns, it won an 18-month extension on appeal in 2020.
Uber introduced a clean air fee in 2018 that added 15p per mile to London travel – now a total of £145m pot, paying the average driver more than £3,000 in a personal savings account against the purchase of an electric car .
Haywood said the fund was now at a “tipping point” from savings to spending, with only £9m spent so far, but that most drivers have now saved enough to encourage buying electricity. He added that around 90% of new registrations of Uber vehicles in London are now fully electric.
The firm has negotiated discounts with manufacturers including Nissan, Hyundai and Tesla, as well as banks and lenders to help Uber drivers access finance. Haywood said it was on track to have 10,000 EVs in London by the end of the year, more than any other global city, and committed to going fully electric in the capital five years earlier than its other markets.
Heywood said it owes much to congestion charges and more electric charging points, and “other tools to work on how to keep London a clean, great, less congested city”.
Khan said last month that he would seek to increase tariffs for drivers of all but the cleanest vehicles by 2024, expand ultra-low emission zones and develop a long-term road pricing plan.
Heywood said: “It is commendable that the mayor has called for a consultation on what bold steps need to be taken – we fully support that conversation. It is important that practices that lead to pollution and overcrowding are – which have huge social costs – are discouraged.”
He added that road charging “could play a very important role in trying to stop urban transport from happening”. [private] Car-dominance is shared in one – whether it’s an Uber pool or public transport – or a lot more active, biking and walking.” But he added that it would be important that it was designed in a way that “London’s Do not make inequalities worse”.