Automotive giant Nissan has signed an agreement with taxi app company Uber that could provide a major boost to its Sunderland plant.
The company and its Renault partner have signed a memorandum of understanding with Uber that will aim to see most of the company’s drivers in Europe using electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf made in Sunderland.
The companies have been trialling a partnership in the UK and are now extending that to other countries.
Their agreement aims to get at least half of miles covered by Uber vehicles in seven European capitals – Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid and Paris – to be in electric vehicles. Journeys in those cities represent around 80% of Uber’s journeys in Europe.
The agreement will also see the companies working together on how they can accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, including offering Uber drivers discounts on the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe.
Jordi Vila, divisional vice president for sales and marketing at Nissan Europe, said: “From 10 years of experience with the Nissan Leaf, we know people love driving electric, and that making the switch can help drivers to save money and support the clean air ambitions of our major cities.
“By teaming up with Uber in the UK, we have already been able to increase the awareness and adoption of zero-emission vehicles, and we are looking forward to exploring how to roll that out further in Europe.”
At the start of this year, Nissan signed a deal to make 2,000 electric cars for Uber. The ride-sharing app has raised more than £80m through its Clean Air Plan, with a 15p fee added to all London journeys being used to support the cost of drivers moving to electric vehicles.
That scheme will now be rolled out to France, followed by other European countries later.
In a separate announcement, Uber said that all of its cars in UK cities – including in the North East – would be electric within the next decade.
Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said: “Uber is committing to become a fully zero-emission platform by 2040, with 100% of rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles, on public transit or with micromobility.
“We’re also setting an earlier goal to have 100% of rides take place in electric vehicles in US, Canadian and European cities by 2030.”
Mr Khosrowshahi said the coronavirus pandemic has given people “a glimpse of what life could be like with less traffic and cleaner air”, but warned that “carbon emissions will return to normal soon”.
He added: “Instead of going back to business as usual, Uber is taking this moment as an opportunity to reduce our environmental impact.
“It’s our responsibility as the largest mobility platform in the world to more aggressively tackle the challenge of climate change. We want to do our part to build back better and drive a green recovery in our cities.”
The Government has been urged to accelerate the take-up of clean cars, as polling suggested many people are not planning to switch to electric vehicles soon.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is calling on ministers to commit to significant long-term incentives for electric vehicle (EV) purchases and binding targets on charging infrastructure amid concerns over costs and the ability to charge up easily.