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Uber Introduces 'Clean-Air Fee' for London Rides

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Uber is paving the way toward creating a greener model for ride-hailing apps.

The company recently implemented a new “clean-air fee” in London, charging customers an additional 15 pence per mile to be dedicated to helping drivers purchase electric vehicles, reported the Guardian.

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“It represents our wanting our partnership in London to not only to be a strong partnership but trailblazing in solving air pollution, which every great city in the world is struggling with, and our mayor here in London is looking to improve,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in an interview with the Guardian.

Each driver will effectively have their own savings account dedicated to the purchase of an electrical vehicle, based upon the number of miles driven, noted the report. A driver averaging 40 hours per week could potentially save £3,000 toward an electric car in a two-year period.

In total, Uber hopes to amass a £200m fund from the fee, which would support almost half of its 45,000 drivers using fully electric vehicles by 2021. The goal is for the London fleet to be fully electric by 2025, noted the report.

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The fund, a world first, was announced by the company as part of a clean air plan and Uber’s ongoing efforts to prove itself to Transport for London, the Guardian reported. The company also stated that the move is part of a larger mission to reduce the number of cars in cities.

“You’re going to see many initiatives but what it adds up to is us moving from being a simple ride-sharing service to transforming to an on-demand mobility service,” said Khosrowshahi. “We ultimately want to be that go-to mobility platform – whether you’re going to move with the car or a bike or ultimately a bus or the tube service. All this is aimed at eventually replacing car ownership itself.

“Cars are unused 95% of the time and take up enormous amounts of space, in parking etc,” he added. “We want to give that space back to the city.”

For early electric vehicle adopters, the company stated in its announcement that it is working with a number of charging suppliers, including BP's ChargeMaster, EO Charging, EVBox and Franklin Energy, to help drivers find a charging point, reported CNBC. It has already partnered with US-based EV charging firm ChargePoint to provide drivers access to charging stations in central London.