A year ago, Uber Technologies Inc. hiked the price of rides in London and placed the surcharges into a fund that would help drivers switch to electric vehicles.
On Friday, Uber said drivers there will be able to start tapping into that fund in the form of discounts on electric cars made by Nissan Motor Co.
The two companies agreed to offer 2,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars to Uber drivers in London as part of the program. The average Uber driver in London will save about £4,500 ($5,900) off the cost of a Leaf through a combination of a manufacturer discount and a rebate from the electric vehicle fund, Uber said.
The company declined to provide more details on the offer price, and drivers must accrue at least £1,000 in contributions to the fund before receiving credits.
Automakers are hoping environmentally conscious businesses and customers will drive demand for electric cars. The need to boost sales is especially acute for those with operations in the U.K. — which includes Japan’s Nissan — amid the uncertainties of Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.
The auto industry suffered a series of setbacks last year as U.K. production slumped and manufacturers idled plants to cope with three Brexit deadlines that came and went. Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC has said it will cut thousands of jobs, Honda Motor Co. is closing its only U.K. factory in 2021, and Nissan scrapped plans to build the X-Trail sports utility vehicle in Sunderland. The Japanese automaker will instead use that facility to make the 2,000 Leafs for Uber.
Uber increased the cost of taking a ride in London by 15 pence per mile (1.6 kilometers) in January 2019 in order to raise a target of £200 million for the electric vehicle fund. Uber said it raised £80 million in the first year.
The company’s future in the city is uncertain after regulators revoked its license to operate there in November. Although Uber can continue to facilitate rides while it appeals the decision, regulators have expressed reservations about the company’s ability to guarantee the safety of passengers.
This week, London’s main transportation regulator released a scathing report detailing its concerns about the service.