Kia and Uber partner to give drivers in 20 European markets discounts to EVs

Uber and Kia Europe are teaming up to offer drivers in 20 European markets deals on buying, leasing, financing or renting Kia’s e-Niro and e-Soul, the latest move by the ride-hailing giant to achieve its emissions goals. 

Uber has committed to being a zero-emission mobility platform across Europe by 2030, and hopes to get up to 30,000 Uber drivers into Kia’s BEV range by the same year. Kia is the latest in Uber’s collection of automakers offerings its drivers discounted rates on electric cars. In May, Uber also announced a partnership with EV manufacturer Arrival to create a purpose-built electric car for ride-hail drivers, and in September 2020, Uber partnered with GM to give Canadian and American drivers discounts to the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. 

Recent legislation adopted by the European Union aims to cut carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Uber’s partnership with Kia anticipates increasingly strict emissions regulations around the continent. To keep up, Uber is also targeting to have more than 100,000 electric vehicles across its European platform by 2025 and 50% of miles driven in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid and Paris to be in zero-emissions vehicles. 

For its part, Kia hopes to use this partnership to popularize its BEVs as it prepares to launch 11 new electric models by 2026. The e-Niro crossover has 239 miles of range and a lithium-ion battery that charges in 54 minutes up to 80% on a DC fast charger. The e-Soul subcompact crossover, with a cute and boxy exterior, offers up to 243 miles of range on a full charge.

But even with the discounts, the Kia models that are currently on offer on PartnerPoint, Uber’s portal for London-based drivers shopping around for EVs, are still quite pricey. Kia is giving drivers a discount of around 8% on its vehicles to finance, as opposed to an average of 13% from Nissan and even 22% with Hyundai. That means Kia’s vehicles a cost between £29,877.40 ($42,15432) and £36,471.40 ($51,457.86), which is around the same price as, if not more than a London driver’s annual salary.

Despite this, it seems drivers are taking advantage of the discounts and other incentives, like 5% financing interest rates and the the Clean Air Fee, which collects 3 pence (4 cents) per ride to put towards the cost of an EV and has saved London drivers an average of £3,000 ($4,233), according to the company.

In London, more than 3.5 million trips have taken place in fully electric vehicles since the launch of the Clean Air Plan in 2019, according to Uber. Some 50% of new cars joining the platform in London are now fully electric, compared to 8% of new vehicles in wider markets. Over the past year, the number of EVs on Uber’s platform has jumped from 700 to 2,100, and Uber wants to double that by the end of the year. 

With this announcement, Uber also said it plans to continue expansion of Uber Green, which allows riders to request a lower emissions vehicle and drivers to get a reduced 15% service fee for each Uber Green trip, across Europe to 60 cities by the end of the year. This feature is currently only available for any London rider starting their trip inside Zone 1, but Uber says now is a good time for drivers to take advantage of lower running costs and greater earning potential through the program.

Uber drivers in Europe can find information about EV offers through the driver app, direct mail and driver webinars, the company said. Prices for vehicles won’t vary depending on driver location. 


Waabi’s Raquel Urtasun explains why it was the right time to launch an AV technology startup

Raquel Urtasun, the former chief scientist at Uber ATG, is the founder and CEO of Waabi, an autonomous vehicle startup that came out of stealth mode last week. The Toronto-based company, which will focus on trucking, raised an impressive $83.5 million in a Series A round led by Khosla Ventures. 

Urtasun joined Mobility 2021 to talk about her new venture, the challenges facing the self-driving vehicle industry and how her approach to AI can be used to advance the commercialization of AVs.

Why did Urtasun decide to found her own company?

Urtasun, who is considered a pioneer in AI, led the R&D efforts as a chief scientist at Uber ATG, which was acquired by Aurora in December. Six months later, we have Waabi. The company’s mission is to take an AI-first approach to solving self-driving technology. 

I left Uber a little bit over three months ago to start this new company, Waabi, with the idea of having a different way of solving self-driving. This is a combination of my 20-year career in AI as well as more than 10 years in self-driving. Thinking about a new company was something that was always in my head. And the more that I was in the industry, the more that I started thinking about going away from the traditional approach and trying to have a diverse view of how to solve self-driving was actually the way to go. So that’s why I decided to do this company. (Timestamp: 1:21)

What does Uber and birth control have in common?

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our morning coffee chat with you that is all about the weekend, what to expect this week, and some funding rounds you may have missed. I’m subbing in for Alex Wilhelm today, who is deservedly out on vacation. You can find me on Twitter @nmasc_, and Equity on Twitter (turn on those notifications!) @equitypod. 

Biden and world leaders are congregating at the NATO summit, which kicks off this week. Also, the Dublin Tech Summit is happening on Thursday with yours truly, other TC folks, and many entrepreneurs making a virtual appearance.

Now, onto the news!

  •  The weekend: The seat next to Jeff Bezos as he launches into space just got filled for $28 million. Also, Elon Musk tweeted about how Tesla might start accepting Bitcoin as a payment once at least half of it can be mined using clean energy. The comment sent Bitcoin up more than a few percentage points, hovering at $39,173 at the time of the recording.
  • This morning: The FT reports that Flagship Pioneering, which is responsible for incubating and launching Moderna, has raised a new venture capital fund at $3.4 billion. Flagship isn’t your traditional VC. It forms teams around problem areas and brainstorms solutions, incubates the most promising ones, and then eventually spins out and finances those companies.
  •  Funding rounds: Byju’s got a check from UBS and Zoom founder Eric Yuan, making it the most valuable startup in India. The company is now valued at $16.5 billion post-money. Plus, The Pill Club has raised an extension Series B round with former Uber exec Liz Meyerdirk newly at the helm of the company.
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