Uber has launched a £150m “clean air” fund to help tackle air pollution in London and across the UK over the next five years, in response to the UK government’s diesel and petrol ban.
Londoners hailing Uber cabs will be charged an extra 35p “green fare” for each ride from next month to help pay to convert vehicles to hybrid or fully electric engines by 2020.
According to the company website, Uber vehicles in London will be 100 per cent hybrid or fully electric on uberX by the end of 2019, with no diesel vehicles on the app. This will affect at least 40,000 cars that are currently on the app in London.
For other UK cities blighted by dirty air, where fewer UberX cars are electrified already, the 100 per cent hybrid and electric deadline is 2022.
In the longer term, the US company said that by 2025 all of its cars in London must be fully electric or a plug-in hybrid, on which the battery typically lasts about 40 miles before switching to petrol.
Uber drivers with conventional petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicles will be able to apply for up to £5,000 each from the fund to help pay for the work needed. Uber said it has contributed £2 million.
Uber said it was prioritising London, where dirty air causes nearly 9,500 deaths a year, because the city had a particular severe problem with particulate pollution and toxic gases from vehicles.
Uber has already added 100 Nissan Leafs, the world’s most popular electric car, to its London fleet earlier this year.
In an attempt to lure the drivers of London’s oldest, dirtiest cars to ditch them and use its service instead, Uber is offering drivers of pre-2005 cars a “scrappage” voucher of £1,500 to use Uber rides instead.
Fred Jones, Uber’s head of UK cities, said: “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it.”
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs welcomed the initiative, and Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Uber’s plan is a great contribution to reducing toxic air pollution.”