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20 November 2018

Eco-Uber: genuine eco-friendly move or clever ploy?

Uber recently announced its plan to charge customers in London an extra 15p per mile from early 2019 onwards. Uber states the reason for this extra charge is its desire to help TFL reduce pollution in the Capital. It plans to give the cash to London drivers to help them purchase electric cars, in light of the recent hybrid and electric car government grant cuts.

There are a number of problems with Uber’s plan to get half of its London drivers electric by 2021:

  • Very few drivers will have easy access to charging stations – something Uber announced it plans to support the local government to improve;
  • A driver on the road for 40 hours a week should build up £4,500 from the extra charge over three years – not really enough to help them afford an electric car;
  • Uber driving is often a temporary occupation, meaning many drivers will not remain drivers for three years and any extra funds raised will go back into the central fund;
  • The move to electric cars may help reduce pollution, but it will not help reduce congestion in London;
  • Electric cars may not have the range required by many Uber drivers, who sometimes want to work long shifts.

Therefore the question must be asked: is Uber’s new electric car charge a genuine move towards a less-polluted London, or it is a back-handed scheme to raise its fees by the back door? Alternatively, by publicly supporting TFL, does Uber expect that renewing the 15 month probationary licence it was given (after a widely reported court case) to continue operating in London in June 2018 will be easier?

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