Uber has established a goal to transition to fully electric cars in Europe by the year 2030 and globally a decade later. To realize this, all of Uber’s independent contractors must trade in their fuel cars for greener alternatives. Uber therefore has seven years to significantly restructure the vehicle configuration in its European operations, where currently less than one in 10 of its vehicles run on electricity.
While some Uber drivers have welcomed the change, others are hesitant to make the switch because of the drawbacks associated with electric vehicles, which include higher initial costs, concerns about inadequate charging stations, and the prolonged time required to charge the car when fueling only takes a short time.
While speaking to EURACTIV, Chris Hook described this reluctance as a normal reaction toward this latest technology. However, he was optimistic that response will be positive once the transition is completed and drivers have the opportunity to drive electric vehicles.
According to Hook, purchasing a vehicle is a significant financial decision for many people, and switching won’t be simple, even if people are persuaded to do so because of the benefits of a healthy environment. Therefore, in order to lower the initial costs of buying and renting an electric vehicle, Uber has entered into agreements with car manufacturers Stellantis, Kia, Hyundai and Nissan to lower their rates on electric vehicles. Uber has also collaborated with BP in the UK and France’s Total Energy companies to install charging stations. This will provide drivers with more affordable payment plans.
According to Hook, these agreements are required so that going electric “makes financial sense” for the drivers. In order to allay concerns regarding the technicalities of the EV range, Uber has assigned EV ambassadors across cities throughout Europe who volunteer to educate drivers based on their experiences.
Hook argues that the early versions of EVs could not match the style of Uber riders; for instance, the 30 kWh batteries did not work well in terms of daily range. But once 62 kWh batteries were developed, things changed. Today, 95% of Uber drivers can drive longer distances without worrying about running out of charge. Hook clarified that in order for a driver to enjoy this, they must fully charge their vehicles and be able to recharge as needed.
Even though Uber intends to make the complete switch to electric vehicles advantageous to the drivers as the year 2030 draws closer, it appears that not all vehicles will qualify to operate, and thus it is obvious that Uber will have to impose certain criteria in order to distinguish between those who qualify and those who do not.
According to Hook, there should be a significant number of fully electric vehicles as the year 2030 draws closer; otherwise, their efforts could have been for nothing.
As more corporate entities such as Uber switch to EVs, a bigger market will quickly open up for all industry players, including Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLA), as ordinary motorists follow the lead of the corporates.
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