In Brief
Responding to the mayor of London's plans to make the city transport emissions-free by 2050, Uber has an ambitious plan to incentivize its drivers into buying hybrid or electric.

Green Drive

Following the announcement by London’s mayor that he wants the city transport system emission-free by 2050, Uber is undertaking an ambitious plan: the company wants all UberX cars to be electric or hybrid by 2019, and their entire fleet emissions-free by 2025.

Those familiar with Uber might see an immediate obstacle in this plan: Uber does not own all of its fleet, so it can’t simply buy new electric cars for drivers. Instead, it will have to incentivize employees to make the switch.

As TechCrunch reports, part of the incentive will be that Uber drivers won’t be able to operate in London without swapping. Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plan requires that all new vehicles for private hire (those with vehicles younger than 18 months) be zero emissions starting in 2020, while drivers with vehicles older than 18 months will have until 2023 to make the switch.

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To keep drivers on the road when that rule goes through, Uber has announced a new funding arrangement for upgrades. The company plans to give out as much as £5,000 ($6,604 USD) to those who swap to an electric or hybrid vehicle, as well as up to £1,500 ($1,981 USD) to any Londoners who stop driving a diesel-powered vehicle. Some of this funding — totaling as much as £150 million —will come from an additional fee on users of £0.35 ($0.45 USD).

If the mayor’s plan proceeds as planned, Uber drivers will be joined by a network of zero-emissions buses by 2037, as well as three million fewer cars on the road by 2041. Of course, Mayor Khan also hopes that 80 percent of journeys will be made cycling, walking or public transport — which may see a drop in Uber use overall.