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Volkswagen & Uber Launch a Pilot Program with Electric Vehicles in Berlin

Volkswagen & Uber Launch a Pilot Program with Electric Vehicles in Berlin

Author: Eric Walz   

Uber is teaming up with German automaker Volkswagen on a ride hailing pilot using the automaker's fully-electric e-Golf vehicles. The service is called "Uber Green" and is launching in German city of Berlin using the zero emission vehicles.

The objective of the pilot project in Berlin is to add a number of e-Golf vehicles to Uber's platform, which may run into three digits the company said. Volkswagen has already been using its e-Golf models successfully for its own car sharing service called "We Share" since 2018.

Uber Green is a low-emission ride option for riders. In a Sept 8 blog post, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote that Uber Green was launching in more than 15 U.S. and Canadian cities. Riders can select the Uber Green option right from the app when requesting a ride. 

For just $1 extra, riders can request a pickup in an EV or hybrid vehicle. Half of the one dollar fee goes directly to the driver. By the end of the year, Uber Green will be available in more than 65 cities globally, the company said.

Riders using Uber Green in the U.S. and Canadian cities receive 3x Uber Rewards points for every trip taken, compared to 2x points for a typical UberX ride.

"Through our cooperation with Uber, we are helping improve air quality in urban areas with our locally carbon-neutral electric vehicles. In addition, with the demanding continuous operation of battery-electric vehicles in a ride hailing service, we will gain valuable experience which we will be able to use for future vehicles," said Holger B. Santel, Head of Sales and Marketing Germany for the Volkswagen Passenger Car brand.

Earlier this month, San Francisco-based Uber announced its commitment to become a fully zero-emission transportation platform by 2040, with 100% of rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles, on public transit, or with micro mobility, such as electric scooters and e-bikes. 

By 2030, Uber's goal is to have 100% of rides take place in electric vehicles in U.S., Canada and European cities. Uber believes it can achieve this ambitious goal in any major city where the company has the opportunity to work with local stakeholders to implement policies that ensure a fair transition to EVs for its drivers. 

These efforts to reduce emissions include expanding Uber Green to make it easier for riders to choose to travel in hybrids or EVs. Uber also plans to commit $800 million in resources to help hundreds of thousands of its drivers to transition to EVs in the next five years and make further investments in a multimodal transportation network to promote sustainable public transit alternatives to personal vehicles. 

As part of its "e-offensive" initiative of electrifying its model lineup, Volkswagen plans to offer electric cars in all major vehicle segments by 2022 to become the world market leader in e-mobility. 

The automaker is investing 33 billion euros (US$38.47 billion) group-wide by 2024, 11 billion of which will be invested by the Volkswagen brand alone. The automaker expects to produce 1.5 million battery-powered cars in 2025.

"We are pleased to have gained Volkswagen, one of the world's leading drivers for e-mobility, as a partner for our intermediation platform. Electric vehicles from Volkswagen are a perfect match for our sustainable ‘Uber Green' concept," said Christoph Weigler, General Manager Uber DACH.

A study released earlier this year by The Union of Concerned Scientists, a national nonprofit organization founded by scientists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found the explosive growth of ride-hailing services is increasing climate pollution and congestion in major cities. 

The analysis shows that ride-hailing trips result in an estimated 69% more climate pollution on average than the trips they displace, so Uber's commitment to switching to zero emission vehicles over the next decade will help to address these concerns.

Uber says that each Uber Green trip in a hybrid or electric vehicle produces at least 25% fewer carbon emissions than the average trip.


Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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