London is one of Uber’s largest markets worldwide, providing riders a much-needed alternative to the often overloaded public transport system. The British capital also leads the way when it comes to electric cars, a key component of the city’s overall pollution and air quality plan.
To combat the rising carbon emissions from cars, the city firstly introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Central London. To incentivise the shift straight to the cleanest technologies available, TfL has been gradually increasing the Congestion Charge too, another daily fee charged in the same area but with much tighter conditions for exemption.
These fees would cost a full-time driver £360 a month* with a new petrol, diesel, or normal hybrid car, and up to £660* if they drive an older car with an internal-combustion engine. Therefore, the most exciting long-term solution for Uber drivers is driving a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or fully electric car (EV), since these are fully exempt from both charges.
*Assuming a 6-day work week, entering the charging zone every day with an ULEZ-compliant car that’s not exempt from the Congestion Charge.
**Assuming a 6-day work week, entering the charging zone with a non-ULEZ-compliant car.
It’s no surprise then, that the demand for EVs has been rising. Uber is helping to meet this demand through their Clean Air Plan, which allows drivers to save up for a new electric car.
To help you prepare for the future and make an informed decision, we’ve created a guide that should answer most of your questions in the early stages of considering an electric car for Uber driving.
What are the advantages of an electric car for Uber?
Congestion Charge exemption
Drivers of all fully electric cars are exempt from paying the daily £15 Congestion Charge upon entering Central London between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm.
Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) exemption
The ULEZ is a £12.50 daily charge enforced 24/7 in the same area as the congestion charging zone. The exemption criteria are more permissive, currently allowing hybrids and even some cars with no zero-emission range (with only an internal combustion engine). However, while future restrictions might affect these cars, EVs will certainly remain exempt from the ULEZ charge.
Access to Zero Emission / Ultra Low Emission streets
A growing number of streets around London are only accessible to cars that emit 0-75g/km of CO2 between set hours. Active during the week, only green vehicles can access these streets between 7:00 am – 10:00 am and 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm.
Driving an EV means you’ll no longer need to fill up the tank. The question is how much can you save by running an EV.
Using the calculator found on Zap Map we estimate that if you drive 700 miles per week, drivers will save £30 per week in an EV car compared to a petrol hybrid.
Clean Air Fee earnings
Uber drivers who own an EV earn more per trip. By driving an EV, Uber adds the 15p/mile Clean Air Fee directly to your earnings, rather than contributing toward Uber’s Clean Air Fund (that you could otherwise use to save up for buying an EV).
Where can I charge an electric car?
You have two main options: home charging and public charging stations. If you can’t charge your EV at home, Zap Map also offers a great way to find your nearest charge point. You can download the app and quickly locate your nearest charger.
If you have access to off-street parking (such as a private driveway or garage), we strongly recommend home-charging your car overnight, to benefit from the cheaper rates. Most electric cars will come with a cable with a standard 3-point plug that provides 3kW of charge, meaning a 60kWh battery would take about 20 hours to fully charge.
In order to speed up the charging, you can also buy a wall-/pole-mounted home charger, and call an electrician to install it. These generally give you about 7kW of charge, meaning a 60kWh battery can be fully charged overnight. The electricity is charged at home rates (about 13p per kWh, depending on the time of day), so charging a 60kWh battery costs less than £8.
To find out more about home charger installers and government grants available, take a look at ZapMap’s guide to home charging.
Rapid charge points
You can also charge an electric car in 20-30 minutes using a rapid charge point, compared to 5-8 hours on a home unit or a standard public charger. TfL has committed to installing 300 rapid charging points by the end of 2020, and Uber is also working with third-party providers to help improve the charging network.
How can Uber help buy an electric car?
Uber aims to have a 100% electric fleet in London by 2025 and to meet the ambitious targets they’ve established a fund to subsidise EV prices at partnering car dealers, helping their drivers make the switch to electric cars.
The Clean Air Fund is like a savings account for drivers, but instead of you putting part of your earnings aside, Uber charges your riders a small, 15p/mile Clean Air Fee . You can then access the money raised this way when buying a new electric car. Once you switch to an EV, The Clean Air Fee will be added to your fares, so you’ll earn 15p/mile more.
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