Taxi app firm Uber has teamed up with car manufacturer Nissan for a three-month electric vehicle trial in London aimed at improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions.
Nissan has supplied Uber with 20 of its Leaf cars – the UK’s best-selling electric vehicle – for the trial, which marks the first time pure electric vehicles have been available for hire through the Uber phone app, according to the car firm.
Launched this week, the trial is being run in partnership with the Energy Savings Trust (EST) and will look into the feasibility of running large numbers of electric private hire vehicles in UK cities.
Nissan said the EST will independently study the experience, driving patterns and economics of private hire drivers using electric cars and the capacity of London’s current network of charging points to support such vehicles in greater numbers.
“We are confident this trial will prove a success and that Uber will join scores of taxi and private hire operators across the UK and wider Europe in recognising the financial and environmental benefits of Nissan’s market-leading electric vehicles,” said Gareth Dunsmore, head of EVs at Nissan Europe. “With the impact of poor air quality remaining a cause for concern, the trial could prove to be a pivotal moment for tackling the challenges in London.”
Six out of 10 Uber journeys in London are already made in hybrid vehicles, according to the car hailing service, resulting in reduced levels of air pollution and carbon emissions. But the firm said it was “keen to explore the economic benefits of going fully electric” ahead of the introduction of the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in central London from 2020, which is set to charge the most polluting vehicles to travel through the centre of the city.
“People already associate Uber with hybrid cars, but we now want to go a big step further with fully electric cars on the road from today,” said Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the UK. “We are determined to use technology to help tackle the challenge of air pollution in London and across the UK. Our car-sharing service has already saved 1.2 million miles and 211 metric tonnes of CO2. With electric vehicles – and more people sharing their journey and leaving their own cars at home – there’s even more we can do.”
The move follows analysis earlier this month by Nissan, which projected that the number of EV charge points would outnumber petrol stations in the UK, marking a tipping point in domestic electric car take up. Meanwhile, further recent Nissan research also found public concern about air pollution has skyrocketed over the past decade.