Air pollution has become a hot button issue for the UK ever since London surpassed its air pollution limits just five days into 2017, leading both the public and private sector to leap into action to reduce emissions. While car manufacturers have been busy rolling out scrappage scheme after scrappage scheme, Uber has announced a new Clean Air Plan to do its part in driving down air pollution across the UK. The Plan outlines a series of measures for drivers, riders and cities. The Plan outlines a series of measures for drivers, riders and cities and places a large focus on hybrid and electric vehicles.
By 2019, the company aims to have every car available on uberX in London be 100 percent hybrid or fully electric with no diesel vehicles on the app. By 2022, Uber plans to replicate this across the rest of the UK.
Already, more than half the miles on uberX journeys in London are made in hybrid or fully electric cars, but Uber has said that it wants to go a step further and have every vehicle using the app in London to be electric in 2025.
The goal is an ambitious one, but the tech company has launched its own scrappage scheme to help kickstart the transition. The scheme aims to remove 1,000 of the most polluting cars from Londons roads by offering the first 1,000 people in London to scrap a pre-Euro 4 diesel vehicle an official scrappage certificate of up to £1,500 of credit to spend on Uber or uberPOOL rides. Londoners can register their interest on the Uber site and apply through the scheme starting next month.
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Uber has also created a Clean Air Fund to allow licensed drivers using the Uber app across the UK to access up to £5,000 towards the cost of upgrading their car to a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.
Over the life of the fund, the company expects that drivers will claim more than £150 million to help transition to a lower carbon car. The fund will launch next month with a £2 million investment and 35p will be added to every ride taken through the app in London (excluding uberPOOL trips), which will be donated to the fund. An amount will also be added to rides in other UK cities over the next year.
Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW are the latest auto manufacturers gearing up to make the shift away from traditional internal combustion engines, joining the likes of Volvo, which recently announced it will cease production of non-hybrid or electric vehicles by 2019. The move comes in response to tightening regulations across the globe on diesel vehicles — Britain, Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens have all announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
Beginning in 2020, all new Jaguar Land Rover cars will be available in electric or hybrid. Its first electric model will be the I-PACE, which will hit roads in 2018.
“From 2020, every new Jaguar Land Rover vehicle will be electrified. Customers will be able to choose from battery electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid power as well as ultra-clean petrol and diesel engines. Future mobility will not be boring. Our products will have passion and emotion as well as being distinctive, desirable and capable as they have always been and will stand out from the crowd,” said Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover.
The company also debuted several autonomous cars and connected mobility innovations at Tech Fest 2017 in London, such as the ‘Sayer,’ a steering wheel gadget which features speech recognition software.
BMW will also begin mass producing electric cars by 2020 and says it will offer 12 different models by 2025. The cars are expected to have a range of up to 700km. According to BMW CEO Harald Krueger, Rolls-Royce brand and BMW M vehicles will also be targeted by the company’s electrification plans.
While this signals a significant step forward for the auto industry, challenges remain. New customs processes resulting from Brexit could present a number of obstacles and there is still the question of cost. The gap between conventional internal combustion engines and electric motors and inverters — as well as batteries — are considerable, though capacity investments into batteries may help drive down costs.