Ride share giant Uber has announced that it will invest more than £5 million ($A9 million) into public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in some of London’s poorest boroughs.
According to Uber, the more affluent London boroughs are home to most EV charging points – boroughs such as Westminster, and Kensington, and Chelsea, according to Uber’s own research.
However, most Uber drivers live in London’s less affluent boroughs – such as Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Redbridge – where there are fewer EV charging points, serving to prevent drivers from adopting electric vehicles.
Speaking at the London Infrastructure Summit on Tuesday, Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said the company hopes its investment will encourage more drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles.
“Drivers consistently tell us that having reliable, accessible charging near where they live is a key factor when deciding if they should switch to electric,” said Heywood.
“If we address this challenge for professional drivers now, it will help create a mass market for electric vehicles in the years to come. As we all know this is critical if the UK is to achieve our goal to be net zero.”
The move follows unsurprisingly on the heels of Uber’s September announcement that it plans to become a fully zero-emissions rideshare platform by 2040, which included an interim goal of ensuring that 100% of all rides in the United States, Canada, and Europe are carried out by EVs by 2030.
“The world is at a critical juncture, and we all have a role to play,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive officer. “Uber is aiming high. We’ll seek to build the most efficient, decarbonized, and multimodal platform in the world for on-demand mobility.
“While we’re not the first to set ambitious goals in transitioning to EVs, we intend to be the first to make it happen. Competing on sustainability is a win for the world, and today we challenge other mobility platforms to transparency, accountability, and more action.”
Part of Uber’s goal was a commitment of $US800 million to help its hundreds of thousands of drivers transition to EVs by 2025. Uber claimed that “we can achieve this 2030 goal in any major city where we can work with local stakeholders to implement policies that ensure a fair transition to EVs for drivers.”
Uber has already been taking significant steps towards transitioning its network to zero-emission vehicles, including the introduction in late-2018 of a 15-pence per-mile surcharge on every trip booked in London which is intended to fund a transition to EVs.
Uber also purchased 2,000 Nissan Leafs earlier this year which will be made available to Uber drivers in London as part of the company’s Clean Air Plan.
“The Mayor of London has set out a bold vision to tackle air pollution in the capital and we’re determined to do everything we can to back it,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, speaking in October of 2018.
“Our £200 million Clean Air Plan is a long-term investment in the future of London aimed at going all electric in the capital in 2025. 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.”
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.