Uber announces a new deal with Kia Europe, which will give Uber drivers discounted rates on Kia electric cars, including the e-Niro and e-Soul. This follows similar partnerships with Nissan and Hyundai designed to make it easier for Uber drivers to buy electric vehicles.
While Uber considers the Kia EVs high-tech vehicles in its announcement, it appears that the new deal does not include Kia’s latest model with 800-Volt architecture, the EV6, for now, and sales just opened. Instead, the focus is on affordability, and Uber says the agreement would see drivers offered affordable high-tech BEVs in 20 European markets.
As part of the partnership, Kia and Uber will develop joint marketing and educational campaigns to promote BEVs to Uber drivers further, reads the statement. In addition, Kia will also offer test drives.
The deal resembles a similar agreement Uber made with Kia’s sister company Hyundai in April. There Hyundai specifically stated that the deal would include all future electric vehicles as well. Kia in the announcement did not make the same promises but also mentions its coming global product line-up with the introduction of 11 new BEV models by 2026, seven of which will be developed on the advanced Electric-Global Modular Platform E-GMP. The latter is shared with Hyundai.
For Uber, these cooperations come against the backdrop of Uber’s announcement that it aims to become a “zero-emission mobility platform” in Europe by 2030. Half of the total aggregated kilometres of Uber rides in seven European capitals will be driven by electric vehicles by 2025. Uber estimates that these cities – Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid and Paris – are expected to account for about 80 per cent of Uber’s European business by the end of 2021.
Part of the initiative also means that customers will be given the option to explicitly order a zero-emission vehicle when booking their ride with a function called Uber Green. After the launch in 15 cities in September last year, Uber expanded its Uber Green roadmap for North America in January this year. The company announced that it would make the service available in 1,400 more cities in North America.
As the first location in Europe, Uber Green launched in London in March. In preparation, the company made a deal with Nissan to supply 2,000 Leaf for its drivers in London. Uber says that they will have Uber Green running in 60 major European cities by the end of the year.
Uber has announced pilot cooperations with OEMs on several occasions – for example, with Volkswagen. For example, in May 2020, the two corporations pushed a pilot project to deploy up to a three-digit number of e-Golf in Berlin.
However, the new cooperation with Kia seems to go further than Uber offering Vokswagen’s old WeShare cars to the drivers using the platform. As a ride-hailing service, Uber leaves it to the gig-workers to switch to electric vehicles. In most of the above cities, the transition will be necessary as low and zero-emission zones result in effective driving bans for conventional cars.
Only in May, British EV developer Arrival had announced working with Uber as they aim to build an electric car specifically for ride-hailing services. The development is to involve drivers. However, the electric car will probably not be exclusive to Uber.
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