Uber has signed an agreement with Nissan to supply 2,000 Leaf for its drivers in London. The announcement comes at a politically explosive time, as Uber is currently fighting in court for his license in the British capital.
In November 2019, the Transport for London authority had denied Uber’s application for a permanent license, claiming the company had failed to guarantee passenger safety. Among other things, TfL is concerned with proper insurance for the riders, and unauthorised persons are to be able to impersonate drivers in the Uber-App. Uber is still battling this in court and is permitted to continue the service in London for the time being, pending a decision.
And it appears Uber wants to appease the authorities, or at least preempt the incoming stricter emission regulations in London. Under the new agreement with Nissan, Uber drivers are to receive a “significant discount” when purchasing a Leaf, but Uber fails to specify the exact amount. However, the push is part of the goal to make the London fleet fully electric by 2025. To refinance this, the company had added 15p on to the cost of every journey made in London and expects the scheme to raise more than £200m (€227m) over the “next few years” to help drivers make the switch to electric cars.
With the Nissan deal – which is in principle open to all Uber-drivers in the UK, but is probably intended primarily for Uber’s 45,000 drivers in London – the American company has now added another charm to the court’s decision: The Nissan Leaf is built in Sunderland, Northern England. If the court confirms the withdrawal of the license, the significant order could burst and the Nissan plant, which is fighting for profitability in the course of the breakeven, would be missing many vehicles. It sold approximately 4,500 of the electric cars last year.
New emission regulations require new cabs in London to be either plug-in hybrid or completely electric. The city thus expects 9,000 electric taxis (about half the current fleet of black cabs) by 2021 reportedly.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey, London.
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