LONDON (Reuters) - Uber [UBER.UL] will cease using diesel cars in London by the end of 2019 and the vast majority of rides will be in electric or hybrid vehicles by then, the taxi app said on Friday.
At the moment the company says around half of all the journey miles completed in the British capital are undertaken with greener vehicles on the firm’s standard low-cost UberX service, which lets customers book journeys on their smartphone.
Several carmakers have announced plans in recent months to electrify a large proportion of their new cars, with Volvo [GEELY.UL] becoming the first major carmaker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.
Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040, replicating plans by France and cities such as Madrid, Mexico City and Athens.
Uber, which has about 40,000 London drivers, will only offer electric or hybrid models on UberX by the turn of the decade and plans to do the same by 2022 nationwide.
“Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan,” said Uber’s Head of UK Cities, Fred Jones.
“Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital,” he said.
Globally, Uber has endured a tumultuous few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the company, leading to investor pressure which forced out CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
In London, the firm has faced criticism from unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions.
Later this month, it will appeal a decision by British judges who have ruled that the app should treat two of its drivers as workers and pay them the minimum wage and holiday pay.
The capital’s transport regulator will also decide in September on how much Uber needs to pay to renew its license.
Uber said on Friday that it will help its drivers who want to switch to greener cars with a more than 150 million-pound ($197 million) fund, paying up to 5,000 pounds per upgrade from a petrol or diesel vehicle.
Uber will start building the fund next month with a 2-million pound investment with a further 35 pence added from each fare taken in London.
It will also offer the first 1,000 Londoners who scrap an older diesel car, 1,500 pounds in credit to use on Uber.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle