BYD signs huge Uber order

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A PARTNERSHIP between Australian company EVDirect and ride-share operator, Uber, has been described as a “game changer” that will positively affect all corporate road transport travel.

The link between Uber and EVDirect, part-owner of distributing BYD cars in Australia with partner Eagers Automotive, will add 10,000 BYD cars to the brand’s sales within 12 months. 

The operation has already started and has its sales and service through Eagers’ national BYD outlets.

The initiative with Uber includes the introduction of a variety of new flexible finance packages for Uber drivers to get into an electric vehicle. It also includes carbon credit tracking for corporate Uber passengers.

Uber ANZ GM Dom Taylor (R) and EVDirect CEO Luke Todd

The 10,000 EVs, predominantly the Atto3 model, will be allocated to Uber and Uber Eats drivers and for ride share customers. It will be marketed under the ‘Comfort Electric’ name. 

It means zero-exhaust emission transport across Australia and replicates Uber’s ‘Clean Air Plan’ that started in the UK in 2019 and aims to have all EV cars on its app by 2025.  Uber plans to be a zero-emissions platform in Australia by 2040.

EVDirect CEO Luke Todd, speaking to GoAutoNews Premium from Tokyo, said that he expects “significant interest” from Uber operators to take up the offer which includes a flexible financing package.

He said EVDirect has its own finance arm and would be offering finance options including full ownership through a longer-term financing arrangement; ‘flexi ownership’ with the option to return the vehicle after a minimum term; and more flexible rental and ownership offerings from early 2024. 

“We are able to offer a new finance product that nobody has been able to offer before because the rideshare world has a unique risk profile,” he said.

“EVDirect has found a way to come up with a finance product that can offer a really great value proposition to as many Uber drivers as possible.”

Additional incentives will be made available to 500 Victoria-based Uber operators.

Mr Todd said that the partnership with Uber will create “potentially the biggest event in the automotive space”.

“It goes beyond just the provision of cars – it is going to make more corporates use the Comfort Electric product and will enable corporate entities to switch all their business travel across to the green platform. 

“Then, all of their transport can be reported back to corporate entities via the technology platform. This is a massive game changer.”

Mr Todd said that using Uber EVs for business travel means emissions reductions could be tracked to give companies access to carbon emissions data, view and report on how frequently employees use low-emission trips. This data could then help corporations work to reduce ground transportation emissions. 

Uber Australia and New Zealand general manager Dom Taylor said: “Two-thirds of drivers have told us they want to make the switch to an EV, but the number one barrier to doing so is the upfront cost of the car.

“Through our new partnership with EVDirect, we are addressing that challenge head-on. Our goal is to provide drivers and delivery people a range of flexible options that make it easier than ever to get behind the wheel of an EV.”

Mr Todd said that one of the big advantages to operators was the amount of money Uber drivers and Uber Eats delivery people could save by switching to an EV, given the number of kilometres that they drive each day. 

“With the record high fuel prices at the moment, there’s never been a better time to announce such an important opportunity to enable drivers and delivery people on Uber to transition to electric so seamlessly,” he said. 

Mr Taylor said that in 2020, Uber announced its aim to eliminate tailpipe emissions on the Uber platform by 2040 “and in 2021 we took a conscious decision as a business to invest ahead of the curve here in Australia.”

“Today we’re thrilled to see our EV flywheel propelling us forward – with our first fully-electric product and a major partnership to make even more EVs available to Uber drivers and delivery people.”

Mr Taylor said that in the third quarter of 2023, more than 1.2 million Uber rides were taken in an EV (that’s an average of 13,000 zero-emissions trips per day). In the same period, there were more than 2400 EVs operating on the Uber platform – a marked increase from fewer than 100 before Uber started investing in 2021.

In the UK, more than 3.6 million people in London regularly use the Uber app and more than half the distance travelled on UberX in the city is in hybrids or EVs.

The Clean Air Plan was designed by Uber to put low and zero-exhaust emission transport options on the road and has been designed to support the mayor’s vision of a cleaner, healthier London. 

By Neil Dowling

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