Uber launches EV fleet in Madrid, adding Tesla Model S

Uber launches EV fleet in Madrid, adding Tesla Model S

Author: Claire   

After seeing Uber move its driverless test site from San Francisco to Arizona, we now see another move that verifies the company's position as the top ride-sharing brand. The business is now resuming its service in Madrid, Spain, adding an EV fleet of Tesla Model S. 

This is to rebuild the image of Uber which was dampened two years ago in the city. The company was driven off Spanish roads in 2014, when a judge ruled that Uber was using amateur drivers for its service, thus disobeying the country's regulations and igniting unfair competition. Both the ruling results and hostility from local taxi companies forced Uber to retreat from the Spanish market.

But the setback didn't stop the company. In April, Uber was making a comeback - this time it brought full-licensed drivers to the city. What's more, it launched the UberOne premium service on December 22, which supplies Tesla Model S sedans to its customers. 

The luxury taxi's backseat is said to be equipped with Microsoft Surface Pro Tablets, so riders can have access to the internet, trip data and a linked Spotify account. 

With the premium service setting, UberOne is more expensive than UberX, of which the company solely operates in Madrid right now. The service runs 0.45 euro per minute and has a minimum cost of 8 euros, while UberX pricing is 0.1 euro per minute with a 5-euro minimum trip fare. 

Tesla taxis in Madrid are not only designed to provide a premium service, but will also comply with the city government's new anti-pollution measures. Madrid's city administration launched a new restrictive policy to combat the metropolitan's growing environmental problem, from limiting private traffic in the central area to tightening speeding limits on access roads. On Thursday, the government even banned half of most private vehicles on the road to tackle air pollution.

Carles Lloret, Uber's managing director for southern Europe, told Reuters that introducing EVs should win favor from the local government, hoping it could grant Uber with more leniency in running the service.

"We want to do things that are in line with what the town hall wants. We would love to see more licenses awarded in the future, perhaps for greener cars so there could be more in circulation," Lloret said. 

Currently, Uber operates in Madrid with restrictive licenses. A driver needs to be equipped with a passenger transport vehicle (VTC) license to legally work under the company. The license is for chauffers who operate sedans typically used by business and government clients. There are around 1,500 VTC licenses in Madrid as of March 2016. 

"We would love to see more licenses awarded in the future, perhaps for greener cars so there could be more in circulation," said Lloret. 

Earlier this year, Uber started trials of electric vehicles in Portugal and London. It intends to help tackle the cities' growing air pollution problems, but also hopes for more infrastructure support, such as charging stations, to put forward more electric vehicles. 

Claire Peng has over 6 years of professional experience in the media industry, covering TV, newspaper and online media. She was once a reporter and producer for Fairchild Television based in Toronto Canada, and worked as an English news reporter for the Global Times in Beijing. She writes mainly about self-driving, companies investment, and the enterprise lab.
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