London residents who use Uber will have to pay an extra 15 pence (USD $0.19) per mile under the ride-hail company’s new Clean Air plan that was announced Monday. The surcharge will go toward helping Uber drivers switch from dirty, fossil fuel burning cars to cleaner, battery-electric versions — with the goal of having all cars on the app be fully electric in London by 2025.
The average trip in London is around three miles (4.8 km), so riders can expect to pay an extra 45 pence (USD $0.58) for every ride. All London drivers are eligible to receive cash payments from Uberto help them purchase an electric car.
Uber says the amount of money drivers will receive toward the cost of an electric vehicle will be based on the number of miles they have driven on the app. For example, a driver using the app for an average of 40 hours per week could expect around £3,000 ($3,865) in two years’ time and £4,500 ($5,787) in three years.
“We want to partner with the cities we serve and are proud to play our part in tackling London’s air pollution,” said Fred Jones, director of Uber in London, in a statement. “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 or public transport — all in the Uber app.”
Once a driver upgrades to an electric car, the clean air fee will go toward subsidizing that driver’s vehicle costs. Uber says it anticipates raising more than £200 million ($257 million) to support drivers transitioning to EVs over the next few years. An estimated 20,000 drivers are expected upgrade to electric vehicles by the end of 2021.
Last year, Uber announced a yearlong pilot program to provide cash incentives to some North America-based drivers who use electric vehicles, with the goal of facilitating at least 5 million trips over the next 12 months. That pilot is taking place in seven cities: Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. But Uber doesn’t have any plans to pay for that pilot with a surcharge; a spokesperson said the Clean Air fee is exclusive to London for now.
Uber has a complicated relationship with regulators in London. In 2017, the city’s transportation authority revoked Uber’s license to operate, citing safety concerns. Uber won back a probationary license last June that requires an independently verified audit of its own operations every six months.
London is moving to crack down on pollution and congestion. Last month, the Transport for London ruled that private for-hire vehicles, including Uber, would no longer be exempt from the £11.50 daily congestion charge for driving in central London. Only zero-emission vehicles will still be exempt from paying the fee — which partly explains Uber’s urgency in getting its drivers to switch from petrol to EVs.
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