Following in the footsteps of Hyundai, Kia Europe has announced a strategic relationship with ride-hailing business Uber, under which the carmaker will provide discounted electric models like the e-Niro and e-Soul to Uber drivers in Europe.
While Uber considers Kia EVs to be high-tech vehicles, it appears that the new contract excludes Kia’s latest model with 800-Volt architecture, the EV6, for the time being, and sales have just begun. Instead, the focus is on price, with Uber claiming that under the arrangement, drivers in 20 European countries would be able to purchase inexpensive high-tech BEVs.
According to the statement, as part of the agreement, Kia and Uber will establish combined advertising and marketing and educational efforts to promote BEVs to Uber drivers. In addition, Kia may provide test drives.
The arrangement is identical to one reached by Uber with Kia’s sibling business Hyundai in April. Hyundai indicated clearly that the agreement will include all future electric vehicles. Kia did not make the same guarantees in its statement, but it did note its next global product line-up, which will include 11 new BEV vehicles by 2026, seven of which will be built on the innovative Electric-Global Modular Platform E-GMP. The latter is a joint venture with Hyundai.
According to Uber, a combination of an automotive discount and a rebate from the EV fund would save the typical Uber driver in London around 4,500 pounds ($5,900) on the cost of a Leaf.
The deal between the two companies comes on the heels of Uber’s declaration that it aspires to become a zero-emission transportation platform in Europe by 2030, as it did with Uber/Hyundai. As a first phase, 100,000 BEVs will be deployed on the European platform by 2025, with electric cars covering 50% of the total aggregated km of Uber trips in seven European capitals. According to Uber forecasts, these cities – Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid, and Paris – will account for about 80% of Uber’s European business by the end of 2021. Customers will be able to specify a zero-emission car when booking their ride, which is linked to this.
Customers will be given the opportunity to specifically choose a zero-emission car when booking their journey using the Uber Green feature as part of the project. Uber expanded its Uber Green plan for North America in January this year, after launching in 15 locations in September last year. The business said that it will expand the service to 1,400 additional locations across North America.
Uber Green debuted in London in March as the company’s major European site. In order to prepare, the business reached an agreement with Nissan to give 2,000 Leafs to its London drivers. Uber claims that by the end of the year, Uber Green will be available in 60 major European cities.
Uber has previously announced experimental collaborations with OEMs, such as with Volkswagen. In May 2020, for example, the two companies launched a trial project in Berlin to deploy up to a three-digit number of e-Golf.
However, the new partnership with Kia looks to go beyond Uber giving old Volkswagen WeShare vehicles to Uber drivers. Uber, as a ride-hailing business, leaves it up to the gig workers to convert to electric vehicles. In many of the cities listed above, the transition will be critical, as low and zero-emission zones result in effective driving prohibitions for conventional cars.
Only a few months ago, Arrival, a British electric vehicle startup, announced a partnership with Uber to create an electric vehicle exclusively for ride-hailing services. Drivers will be involved in the development. The electric car, on the other hand, is unlikely to be limited to Uber.
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