Uber wants its service to be fully electric in London, England by 2025.
The company announced Tuesday that it plans to raise £200 million ($260 million) to help all of its drivers in the city switch to electric vehicles.
The move follows Mayor Sadiq Khan's June announcement that diesel and high-polluting vehicles will be charged a £12.50 ($16.20) daily fee, starting in 2021.
“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 Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, in a statement.
Uber's $260 million Clean Air Plan represents a long-term investment in the future of London, he added. "Over time, it’s our goal to help people replace their car with their phone by offering a range of mobility options — whether cars, bikes, scooters, or public transport — all in the Uber app.”
The new "clean air fee” of 15p ($.19) per mile on each trip in London will be used to provide financial assistance to drivers who want to purchase an EV. Someone using the app for around 40 hours per week is expected to receive around £3,000 ($3,894) toward an EV in two years' time.
Under the new scheme, Uber estimates that up to 20,000 London drivers could go electric by the end of 2021. There are currently 45,000 licensed Uber drivers operating in the city and more than 3.5 million riders using the platform, CNBC reports.
Adam Gromis, Uber’s lead on sustainability and environmental impact, told GTM earlier this year that the results of an early pilot in London showed positive results in boosting the number of EV miles traveled. When 60 electric cars were added to the ridesharing network for just four months, they contributed 40,000 rides.
On the downside, the pilot proved that EV prices and charging options continue to be barriers, which is why continuing to expand EV infrastructure is another key element of Uber's Clean Air Plan in London.
Uber has already teamed up with several home-charging suppliers — including BP ChargeMaster, EO Charging, EVBox, Franklin Energy, NewMotion, Pod Point and Swarco EVolt — to provide more affordable charging options to drivers using the app. Uber is also working with ChargePoint and other industry players to expand public charging.
Another aspect of the Clean Air Plan is Uber's diesel scrappage scheme, aimed at removing some of the most polluting cars from London’s roads. The first 1,000 people in London to prove they've scrapped an older (pre-Euro 4 emission standard) diesel vehicle will receive a credit of up to £1,500 ($1,932) to spend on Uber or uberPOOL rides. The program will launch early next year.
Uber has had a rocky relationship with London in the past. Under former CEO Travis Kalanick, the ride-hailing service had its license revoked over "a lack of corporate responsibility," which could have public safety and security implications, according to London regulators.
Uber's new CEO, Khosrowshahi, has made getting back into London a priority since taking the job just over a year ago. Over the summer, the company received a temporary license enabling it to reboot operations.
As Uber looks to rebuild its relationship with London through its new EV program, it's also finding ways to expand EV adoption in the U.S.
Competitor Lyft is doing the same. The company has been working with General Motors to deploy an autonomous electric vehicle fleet. After President Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, Lyft announced it aims to provide at least 1 billion rides per year using autonomous electric vehicles by 2025.
According to Wood Mackenzie, there could be as many as 22 million autonomous electric vehicles worldwide by 2040, which would begin to present a "key risk" to oil demand.