Uber, in partnership with Nissan and BYD, today launched a three-month electric vehicle (EV) leasing program in the United Kingdom. To encourage the company’s on-demand drivers to make the switch to all-electric mobility and lease directly from Uber, lease payments for the EVs will reportedly be competitive with comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. (Uber already facilitates leases for drivers through a number of third-party companies). Operating costs for the EVs will also be lower due to the relatively inexpensive cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity and the near absence of maintenance.
The service now being tested not only makes Uber a player in the clean mobility space, it also benefits drivers by offering an economical vehicle (helping drivers’ margins) and provides the Uber with a new revenue stream by getting the company into the potentially lucrative leasing business.
Uber is starting with 50 vehicles in London, and is partnering with the UK-based Energy Saving Trust to study the pilot and advise on next steps. If the pilot is successful, Uber says that hundreds of EVs could be on the roads next year.
Adding leased EVs to Uber’s portfolio follows similar pilot programs in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal, and Johannesburg, South Africa. Those pilots, launched under the “uberGREEN” moniker, did not entail leasing but did enable customers to request an EV for their ride (the BMW i3 was used for the 6-12 week programs). The cost of summoning an EV was at the uberX rate.