Uber has launched its all-electric UberONE premium service in Madrid, which utilises Tesla Model S sedans.
The roll-out began on December 22 and uses ‘dozens’ of the electric cars. It follows all-electric trials in London and Portugal earlier in 2016. It also follows a Spanish taxi company adding 110 Nissan Leafs to its fleet earlier in 2016 as the Mayor of Madrid acted to address the increasingly poor air quality in the city. If successful, Uber plans to expand the service to other European cities.
The service is similar to the UberBlack service available in many markets, but instead uses all-electric cars. The use of electric cars is an attempt by Uber to improve its image in cities such as Athens, London and Madrid increasingly hostile to air pollution. Madrid originally banned Uber in 2014, before reinstating it when the UberX service with licensed drivers replaced the former UberPOP service. However, with left-wing environmentally-firendly mayor Manuela Carmena unveiling new measures to combat air pollution in November, Uber is hoping to future-proof its business.
Managing director of Uber for southern Europe Carles Lloret told Reuters: ‘We want to do things that are in line with what the town hall wants.’
Regulation and hostility from local taxi firms drove Uber off Spanish streets at the end of 2014 after a Spanish judge ruled the company did not comply with the country's laws and represented unfair competition.
Founded in 2009, Uber Technologies Inc. has expanded exponentially worldwide but has come up against opposition from traditional taxi drivers and has faced court injunctions in several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands as well as Spain.
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