Some cars seem oddly well-suited to Uber (Toyota Prius, anyone?), but the company is now taking things a step further. Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi told guests at a Wall Street Journal event that his firm is now teaming up with car manufacturers to design EVs with ridesharing and deliveries in mind. Rideshare cars will ideally have lower top speeds to reduce costs, as well as passenger seats that face each other to promote conversations. Delivery vehicles, meanwhile, might have two or three wheels (to help navigate city streets) but loads of trunk space.
Khosrowshahi didn’t say which automakers were involved, or provide a timeline for when optimized EVs might be ready. Uber said in 2021 that it was partnering with Arrival on custom electric taxis, but that was before the startup scrapped its automotive projects in favor of vans.
Uber is no stranger to promoting electrified rides. The company launched Uber Green years ago, and lowered prices last spring. More recently, it expanded the option of hailing all-electric rides to two dozen US cities. The company has also made EVs more accessible to some drivers by making Tesla and Polestar cars available to rent through a deal with Hertz. This latest effort could further widen access by lowering the price of entry and speeding up deliveries.
The service is under pressure to transition to EVs quickly. Internally, it plans to go pure-electric in some regions by 2030, and in cities like London by 2025. Governments in Europe, the UK and North America will also ban sales of combustion engine cars as early as 2035. The more drivers willingly adopt EVs, the fewer headaches Uber is likely to encounter in the years ahead.
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