More Australians are in line to take their first ride in an electric car after Uber revealed plans to launch a service dedicated to zero and low-emission vehicles.
The ride-sharing giant will introduce its Uber Green tier in Australia on Friday in a move CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says is part of Uber’s effort to address “the defining challenge of our generation”.
The launch, announced at the company’s Go-Get Zero event in London, comes four years after Uber Green was introduced in Europe and more than 1250 electric vehicles were registered with the platform in Australia.
Uber will also offer electric vehicle charging discounts to its Australian drivers in partnership with BP.
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Industry experts welcomed the announcement on Friday, with one saying the company’s strategy will deliver “a big message” to other transport companies operating in Australia.
Khosrowshahi unveiled a suite of green initiatives on Friday, including upcoming features to advise drivers when and where to charge their electric cars, to help the company reach its net-zero emissions target by 2040.
“Driving emissions to zero, I believe, is the defining challenge of our generation,” he said.
“Our drivers on Uber are the first people we should be targeting to go green because of (their) outsize impact.”
Uber Green, which will appear as an option in the company’s online app, will let users request a ride in an electric or hybrid vehicle for the same price as an UberX ride.
The platform has more than 1250 electric vehicles registered locally.
Uber Australia managing director Dom Taylor said the new initiative would encourage more drivers to adopt the technology and more riders to try it.
“Australia’s path to net zero is going to take a concerted effort from all of us and Uber is stepping up to play our part,” he said.
“We have a responsibility to offer more sustainable choices across our platform and to do our bit in accelerating Australia’s path to zero emissions.”
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey, who was the first person to test Uber Green in Australia before its official launch, said making electric vehicles more accessible was vital to reducing transport pollution.
“It’s through these simple changes in our day-to-day routines that we will reduce our emissions and achieve our net-zero target,” he said.
Uber Green will be available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra at launch, with towns in Tasmania and the Northern Territory yet to qualify.
Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said it would boost the use of electric transport and send “a big message to other businesses” to cut vehicle emissions before 2030.
Jafari said the new service could also give many riders access to an electric vehicle for the first time and should spark curiosity about the technology.
“There’s a lot of interest and excitement about electric vehicles but a lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to sit in one themselves,” he said.
“We know that electric vehicles are their own best advocates.”
Uber also revealed plans to offer drivers discounted vehicle charging in partnership with BP.
The energy giant currently operates 58 vehicle charging stations in Australia, with plans to roll out 600 charging points over the next two years.
The writer travelled to London as a guest of Uber.
This article was first published by AAP.