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Nissan LEAF & Uber Tag Team London

Uber is getting a partner to help it electrify its fleet in the London area, and Nissan is getting a partner to buy a bunch of Nissan LEAFs.

Uber is getting a partner to help it electrify its fleet in the London area, and Nissan is getting a partner to help it sell a bunch of Nissan LEAFs.

Nissan LEAF

More specifically, 2,000 Nissan LEAFs will enter Uber’s London fleet. A timeframe is not provided, but I presume this means in the coming year. These LEAFs will have 40 kWh batteries offering ~168 miles of range on a single charge.

168 miles may sound inadequate for Uber life in London — and perhaps it will present challenges. However, driving 150 miles a day for 365 days would equal 54,750 miles of transportation a year, which is approximately 4× more than the average American drives and about 7× more than the average English person drives. That sounds like plenty of range to me, even for an Uber driver

If you take out weekends, 150 miles a day times 261 days a year is still 39,500 miles a year, nothing to scoff at. Nonetheless, with fewer than 200 miles of range, we may be in the territory of Uber drivers needing a solid EV charging network in order to keep the cars going efficiently till the end of the work day. My hunch is that you really need 200+ miles of range plus overnight charging in order to use an electric vehicle for Uber without much wasted time charging.

Uber has a Clean Air Plan for London. The company says it wants to have all of the cars available on its app in the London area to be fully electric by 2025. On the flip side, Nissan has a factory in Sunderland producing Nissan LEAFs that it needs to unload on buyers who are not getting the Tesla Model 3 for some reason or another.

There are a few big reasons for Uber drivers in this area to go electric. For one, the UK has a nice little £3,500 grant for people who buy an electric car like the LEAF. Secondly, it’s getting more expensive and more difficult to drive a non-electric car in the London area. Also, in this time of societal crisis, it’s best to do the right thing and be on the right side of history. We have a climate crisis as well as a health crisis from pollution. It’s high time for all of us to do our part to dissipate these problems.

Here’s a bit more info on Uber’s Clean Air Plan from Nissan: “Launched in January 2019, Uber’s Clean Air Plan aims to tackle air pollution by helping drivers upgrade to an electric vehicle through the introduction of a Clean Air Fee; 15p a mile is added on to all London journeys which will help drivers with the cost of adopting an electric vehicle. In the first year, Uber has raised more than £80million to support drivers transitioning to electric vehicles, with more than £200m expected to be raised over the next few years.”

Depending on miles traveled and some other factors, Nissan estimates that an Uber driver could save £3,500 a year by driving electric instead of on gas or diesel.

Over 900,000 Uber trips were taken in an electric vehicle after one year of the Clean Air Plan program. Those 90,000 miles were spread amongst more than 500 EV drivers in the network.

This is a strong step forward for Uber. Until the age of robotaxis, getting electric vehicles into the hands of Uber, Lyft, taxi, and shuttle drivers is probably the most efficient and intelligent way to roll out electric vehicles. These are high-mileage services and also expose numerous customers to electric vehicles. Uber has also partnered with EVgo in the United States to help its drivers go electric. Additionally, Uber in 2018 took $500 million from Toyota to co-develop an autonomous vehicle (which you have to assume would be electric … except it’s Toyota, which seems to be lost on this matter).

Most of Uber’s work in the electric vehicle arena, though, has been its electric flight leadership via Uber Elevate. It seems there are still a few years before that pays off in terms of commercial operation, but hopefully we have this other clean option before the end of the decade.

Want to read the experience of a person who has done a lot of Uber and Lyft driving in a Nissan LEAF? Check out this story by Jennifer Sensiba: “Rideshare Driving In An EV: A Getting Started Guide.”

Photo by Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica

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