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London Uber licence decision ‘particularly discouraging’ for electric vehicle plans says CEO

Image: Uber.

Image: Uber.

Uber’s new chief executive has said last week’s decision not to renew the company’s license in London is “particularly discouraging” as it will impact efforts to get more electric vehicles on UK roads.

In a controversial move on Friday, Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that the company would not be issued with a private hire operator licence after expiry of its current licence on 30 September, claiming Uber’s conduct “is not fit and proper” to hold such a licence.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who backed TfL’s decision, said: “TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrates a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues that have potential public safety and security implications.

“All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect - particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.”

Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over at Uber from Travis Kalanick in August following a string of negative reports related to workplace culture at the company, wrote to colleagues over the weekend in response.

Claiming to be “hugely disappointed” in the decision, which is thought to affect 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million Londoners “who rely on Uber to get around”, Khosrowshahi added: “It's particularly discouraging that this is happening in the UK, where the team has led the way on partnerships with local groups to increase…electric vehicles on the road.”

Just two weeks ago (11 Spetember) Uber confirmed that its entire London uberX fleet would become hybrid or fully electric by 2019 before the rest of its vehicles in more than 40 UK towns and cities would follow suit by 2022. The company also pledged to see every vehicle using the app, including the larger uberXL and Exec ranges, to be electric in 2025.

The company has also previously announced that it would deploy its own network of electric vehicle chargers in London after a trial conducted alongside the Energy Saving Trust found that the current network was not sufficient to support the growth of EVs.

No such announcements were been made for the other major UK cities Uber operates in, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. These locations are understood not to be following London’s example in effectively banning the company from operating and so it remains unclear if Uber’s electrification plans will be brought forward elsewhere.