The global ride-hailing corporation Uber has pledged five million pounds over the next three years, to be spent on creating charging points across London. Specifically, they’re aiming to build them in poorer or under-served boroughs such as Newham, Brent and Tower Hamlets.
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said that: “drivers consistently tell us that having reliable, accessible charging near where they live is a key factor when deciding if they should switch to electric.”
“If we address this challenge for professional drivers now, it will help create a mass market for electric vehicles in the years to come. As we all know this is critical if the UK is to achieve our goal to be net zero.”
The pledge also comes in the wake of Uber’s promise to make all the 45,000 cars in its London fleet electric by 2025, a goal it is currently short of by… er, 44,000. The firm’s lofty ambitions also extend beyond London, with plans for zero emissions in its fleet by 2040. They’ve also made other efforts to steer its workers towards EVs, such as a self-imposed clean air fee in London, and a deal with Nissan made earlier this year for 2000 discounted Leafs for drivers, also in Lahndahn tahwn.
If you’re noticing a certain geographical favouritism, you’re not imagining things. Uber seems to have marked the capital as a figurehead of its environmental aspirations, using the city as both a testing ground and public demonstration for all its new initiatives. It makes sense – if you can stay green in a big, smog-choked metropolis, you should be able to do it mostly anywhere.
Of course, if I were cynical (I know, just imagine), I might say that Uber is straining to be on its best behaviour in London after its license to operate in the city was rejected last year in the wake of serious safety concerns. It was recently reinstated in the face of “improvements”, yet it can’t help but seem like Uber is trying to look as saintly as possible for when that license is reexamined eighteen months from now. It’s like when you did something naughty as a child, and you started immediately laying the table without being asked in the hope your parents would give you back your Game Boy sooner rather than later. Still, more charging stations in the city won’t be a bad thing, especially considering Uber’s drivers tend to live in the boroughs that need them most.