Analysis: the scramble to provide Uber with EVs

“First and foremost with ride-hail drivers, it comes down to money in the pocket,” said Peter O’Rourke, global head of marketing for Splend.

This Australian ride-hailing company recently set up shop in London to offer its rent-to-buy scheme to drivers who use not just rival Uber but also apps from Bolt, Freenow and others that pay out for deliveries of packages and food.

Splend current offers the Ioniq Electric, the e-Niro and the MG 5 SW EV estate. Top of the three is the e-Niro in terms of design, according to O’Rourke. “It’s a knockout because of its size and shape, with lots of head room and leg room,” he explained. “In the back of the Prius, your knees are around your ears.”

But drivers also like the 5 SW EV for its space, value and long range. At 276 miles, it can drive for two days without charging on the average Uber driver’s daily tally of 120-150 miles.

China could be a good source of good-value EVs beyond the MG estate. Indeed, Splend is currently in talks with BYD to import its EVs into London specially for ride-hailing use.

O’Rourke didn’t mention any models, but the Chinese firm aims its E6 electric crossover, which has a claimed 250-mile range, at taxi drivers.

“Ultimately, Chinese car manufacturers are making [electric] cars cheaper, which means we can purchase them cheaper and provide them to our drivers cheaper, which means more money in their pocket,” explained O’Rourke.

However, any Chinese that do arrive in Britain – and indeed our own Arrival – will have to compete with established marques, and not just on price.

“If you’re an Uber driver, you know the brand Toyota. You trust it. It’s your livelihood,” said O’Rourke. “Getting people to make this switch is hard.”


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