Uber has promised to commit millions of pounds towards combating air pollution in London and the UK through a new “Clean Air Fund”, which will subsidise driver purchases of eco-friendly cars.
The San Francisco taxi-hailing company announced its “Clean Air Plan” on Friday (as rival Taxify halted its operations after running into regulatory issues) alongside a number of measures that should help to make the city’s air less toxic.
Uber said it is committing £2 million to the Clean Air Fund, which will launch next month. The fund will be used to hand drivers up to £5,000 towards the cost of upgrading their normal car to a fully electric vehicle, such as a Toyota Prius.
And the firm promised to add 35p more to the fund every time someone takes a ride through its app in London. That means, for example, £350 will be added to the fund after 3,000 rides. But there’s a catch. All Uber rides in London are going to become 35p more expensive for passengers.
Uber said it expects drivers to claim in excess of £150 million during the fund’s life, which has no end date. A spokesperson for the company told Business Insider that Uber expects the remaining £148 million to be raised through trips but the company wouldn’t rule out topping up the fund “if necessary”.
Uber said all of its uberX vehicles in the 40 UK towns and cities it operates will be hybrid or fully electric by 2022, adding that there will be no diesel vehicles on the platform by that time. The goal is to have all uberX drivers in London using hybrid or fully electric cars by the end of 2019.
Some 50% of Uber’s London fleet are already hybrid vehicles or fully electric. But Uber has 40,000 drivers in London and many of them don’t have environmentally-friendly cars. As a result, the company contributes its fair share of emissions to the city.
In a bid to get diesel cars off the road, Uber is launching a scrappage scheme in a bid to get 1,000 of the most polluting cars off London’s roads.
Uber said the first 1,000 people in London to scrap a pre-Euro 4 diesel vehicle and provide an official scrap certificate will get up to £1,500 of Uber credit.
Fred Jones, Uber’s head of UK cities, said in a statement: “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan.
“Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital. Our scrappage scheme will also take polluting vehicles off the road and encourage Londoners to get into a shared car to connect with public transport instead.”