British electric van and bus maker Arrival will develop an electric car for US ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies.
Arrival and Uber will also explore a strategic relationship in key markets, including the United Kingdom, European Union and United States. The companies say the Arrival Car will address the global need to shift ride-hailing and car sharing services. They estimate that there are over 30 million drivers across the ride-hailing sector globally.
Up until now Arrival has focussed on producing commercial vans and buses. Its biggest public order has been for up to 10,000 vans for United Parcel Service (UPS), which also owns a stake in Arrival.
Arrival went public in March via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
The Arrival Car will be a purpose-built electric vehicle for ride-hailing. The company’s first car will be based on the Arrival ‘Small Vehicle Platform’. Arrival says its aim is to design a car aims that is more comfortable for drivers who spend hours a day at the wheel, while ensuring the passengers enjoy a premium experience.
Arrival said the Car collaborate with Uber drivers in the design process over the coming months to ensure the Arrival Car reflects the needs of professional drivers and their passengers, with the final vehicle design expected to be revealed before the end of 2021.
The vehicle will be manufactured using hard-wearing and easy-to-clean materials. Other features could include a front passenger seat that can fold away to fit more luggage and a panoramic glass roof.
The Arrival Car will need to withstand the high demands of an Uber driver. Ride-hailing cars drive up to 31,000 miles (50,000kms) annually, versus the 7,450 miles (12,000kms) clocked up by the average car.
Arrival and Uber say the Arrival Car will be affordable, but have not yet divulged pricing.
Tom Elvidge, Arrival’s senior vice president for mobility, said: “We are confident that electrifying ride-hailing vehicles will have an outsized impact on cities, and we are keen to support drivers as they manage this transition. Arrival Car will be designed around drivers’ needs to create a vehicle that is affordable, durable and desirable.
“We have a great partnership with UPS to create a best-in-class electric delivery vehicle. We hope to replicate that success with Uber as we develop the best possible product for ride hailing that elevates the experience of the passenger and improves drivers’ health, safety and finances.”
The Arrival Car is scheduled to go into production in the fourth quarter of 2023. Production could take place in the UK, although no final decision on factory locations had been made.
Uber plans to double the number of drivers in EVs by the end of this year as part of the roadmap for all cars on the app to be fully electric by 2025. On a global level, Uber aims to produce no net carbon dioxide emissions by 2040.
Uber plans to be a fully electric mobility platform in London by 2025. In March, the ride-hailing company introduced Uber Green, an option for customers in London who want to choose electric vehicles only. So far in London, more than 3.5 million trips have taken place in fully electric vehicles.
Following the launch of Uber’s Clean Air Plan in London two years ago, more than £135m ($188m) has been raised to support drivers with the cost of switching to a fully electric vehicle. The company anticipates that this will help drive a mass market for EVs.
Jamie Heywood, Uber regional manager for northern and eastern Europe, said: “As our cities open up we have an opportunity to make sure that urban transport is cleaner than ever before. Uber is committed to helping every driver in London upgrade to an EV by 2025, and thanks to our Clean Air Plan more than £135m has been raised to support this ambition. Our focus is now on encouraging drivers to use this money to help them upgrade to an electric vehicle, and our partnership with Arrival will help us achieve this goal.”
In March, Uber gave its existing 70,000 UK drivers workers’ rights, including the minimum wage, after it lost a Supreme Court case.
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