Uber and Nissan launch three-month electric vehicle trial in London

Automotive giant Nissan has announced a new partnership with car hailing service Uber on a new electric vehicle (EV) project to help tackle air pollution in London, on the same day that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was urged to impose mandatory carbon reduction plans on London's transport fleets.

Uber will introduce 20 fully electric Nissan LEAF saloon vehicles into its fleet as part of an extensive trial period in the capital. The EV’s will be integrated into the Uber X service and are on the road now, representing the first time fully electric vehicles have been available through the Uber service.

The trial is running in partnership with the Energy Savings Trust (EST), which will be considering the practicality of large scale EV private hire in the UK. With 60% of London Uber journeys already being made in hybrid cars, the service is ready to branch out to fully EV solutions.

Uber’s general manager Jo Bertram said: “People already associate Uber with hybrid cars, but we now want to go a big step further with fully electric cars on the road from 31st August.

“We are determined to use technology to help tackle the challenge of air pollution in London and across the UK. Our car-sharing service has already saved 1.2 million miles and 211 metric tonnes of CO2. With electric vehicles – and more people sharing their journey and leaving their own cars at home – there’s even more we can do.”

Nissan has also announced that all gold medal-winning athlete ambassadors from Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic teams will be presented with an all-gold Nissan LEAF.

Policy change

The company aims to explore the environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles in the run up to the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) introduction – which Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to deliver by 2020.

Even with ULEZ promising to provide a healthier living environment for residents, Khan has recently been challenged to tackle city transport emissions to further advance London’s sustainability credentials and clean up the London’s air quality.

Advisory firm Tyréns has called on Khan to consider introducing mandatory carbon plans for the capital that could reduce transport carbon waste by 24% within the next two years. The mayor has already shown a willingness to tackle these issues, having already taken action against London’s heaviest polluting vehicles and transport services.

According to the firm, London can be a global example of green city standards, if the scope of concern widens from exclusively high emission vehicles to transport planning and corporate behaviour change – ensuring businesses moving into housing zones, creative enterprise zones and major regeneration schemes remain committed to low emission practices.

Tyréns’ UK director of transport David Hampton said: “An enlarged Ultra Low Emission Zone is a good initial gesture, but the reality is that most cars on the road will be safe for the time being. What is needed is a concerted effort to force businesses to think differently about business transportation and operations in a way that achieves more carbon friendly deliveries and continues to get staff to change commuting habits.”

However, a report released earlier today (1 September) from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has claimed that the Department for Transport (DfT) must commit to a long-term green vehicle strategy, through an increase in the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) and a reduction in air pollution levels, in order to achieve national decarbonisation targets.

Alex Baldwin

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