Volkswagen has joined forces with Uber to launch an electric vehicle pilot through the Uber Green ride-hailing service in Berlin. The companies aim to deploy a fleet of e-Golf cars in a size that may run into three digits.
The project’s objective of VW and Uber in Berlin is to put several year-old e-Golf vehicles into use. A spokesperson for Uber clarified when talking to electrive, that the deal would give Uber drivers access to cheaper, pre-used electric cars. He also mentioned advantageous conditions but these are subject to the state of each vehicle.
Volkswagen has already been running the e-Golf successfully for its own car-sharing service WeShare since 2018 in the German capital. Cooperating with Uber is different though as the company provides ride-hailing, not car sharing. At the same time, Uber does not employ drivers but only facilitates booking with their global app. To drive for Uber means bringing your own car.
In Berlin, the Uber service is in a special situation. The city does not allow non-licensed cab services. So in the capital as well as all other German cities, the group claims to work exclusively with licensed, rented car and cab enterprises, whose drivers possess a passenger transport license. It is these enterprises that Volkswagen wants to reach through the new offer that involves a virtual event so far.
Christoph Weigler, General Manager Uber DACH, further described the idea as offering “our hire car partners an economically attractive possibility of switching to zero-emission drive systems at short notice.”
For Volkswagen, Holger B. Santel, Head of Sales and Marketing Germany, hopes “the demanding continuous operation of battery-electric vehicles in a ride-hailing service” will give VW data and user insights to use for future vehicles. We cannot help but think WeShare despite the offers being different.
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Uber had started trying to get drivers to shift to e-mobility, also given incoming low-emission regulations in capitals and cities across Europe. Earlier this month the company also pledged that all trips booked via its global platform by 2040 will be made with electric vehicles or micro-mobility offers such as e-scooters or rental bicycles. In the USA, Canada and Europe, the target for zero-emission operation is 2030. Uber Green has already launched in more than 15 US and Canadian cities and some European capitals.
How many electric cars are in operation in Uber Green is unclear at this stage as Uber had not yet registered the vehicles by drive type. The spokesperson also pointed out that Uber Green includes hybrid cars in many cities.
To further the switch, Uber has announced that it will provide 800 million US dollars to help hundreds of thousands of drivers make the transition to electric vehicles by 2025. This includes discounts for e-vehicles purchased or leased from partner manufacturers. The new cooperation with Volkswagen is likely to address precisely this issue.
Uber already has two partnerships with automakers underway: with General Motors for the US and Canada and the Renault-Nissan alliance for European cities in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Portugal. In London, Uber recently ordered 2,000 Leaf electric vehicles, also in a move to appease the city that is considering banning the ride-hailer.