Uber is looking towards a greener future. At a GO-GET Zero event in London on Thursday, Uber’s first-ever sustainability product event, the company unveiled several new features intended to make ridesharing have less of an impact on the environment—with Uber riders and drivers benefiting in the process. The offerings include an airport pickup and dropoff incentive for riders selecting hybrid or electric vehicles; updated navigation algorithms that Uber says are more eco-friendly; a new peer-to-peer carsharing option; and an in-app search filter for Uber Eats restaurants that use sustainable packaging.
“Together these small changes add up to something big: building sustainability into the core user experience across our global platform, one ride and delivery at a time,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at the London event. At the core, he said, it’s about making the greener choice as effortless as the alternative.
The announcement is part of the San Francisco–based company’s lofty push to become a zero-emission mobility platform in the United States, Canada, and Europe by 2030. Previously, Uber said it would spend $800 million to transition hundreds of thousands of existing drivers to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025. The number of drivers in EVs tripled in the past year, with more than 60,000 currently in North America and Europe.
The series of new features announced in London is meant to benefit Uber users and the environment by baking greener alternatives directly into the in-app experience. Here’s what’s ahead.
New greener Uber features
Airport discounts and priority pickups for choosing EV and hybrid rides
Uber’s new “Green Curb” at select airports will provide discounted fares and access to preferred pickup zones when choosing a ride categorized as Uber Green (a hybrid or electric vehicle) or Uber Comfort Electric (highly rated drivers in a Tesla Model 3, Mustang Mach-E, or Polestar). Launch locations include London Heathrow Airport (LHR), Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD), Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX), and Portland International Airport (PDX), with plans to add more airports to the program in the future.
While “Green Curb” will function differently at each airport, don’t expect massive savings. Still, it may be just enough to move the needle, convincing riders to make the switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle. At LHR, for instance, there will be a designated pickup location with riders receiving a 10 percent discount on the base fare when selecting Uber Green. At PHX, Uber customers will receive a 40 percent discount on airport pickup and drop-off fees when selecting Comfort Electric rides.
Additionally, Uber is launching an entirely new product line in North America and Europe: peer-to-peer carsharing. This works similarly to services like Turo, with customers picking up and driving nearby cars themselves. With the Uber app, users can browse available cars that they can instantly reserve, unlock, and drive.
In 2022, Uber acquired Car Next Door, an Australian carsharing company, and it was rebranded into Uber Carshare later that year. Now, for the first time, the program will be offered in North America and Europe, with Boston and Toronto serving as the initial launch cities. Uber says it will continue to offer its Uber Rent product, allowing users to compare and book rental cars in the app from major companies like Hertz and Avis.
Eco-friendly navigation and deliveries
On the tech side, Uber is making tweaks to its navigation algorithms to reduce emissions by ensuring that rides are more efficient. Uber says the new formula not only factors in distance as it did previously but also takes elevation and the amount of stopping and starting into account. A company spokesperson said that this is a proprietary tool with its own GPS inputs.
Finally, for Uber Eats pickup and delivery, Uber is letting consumers in the app easily find and select restaurants that use sustainable packaging. Launch cities for this feature include New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Taipei. Uber says that its goal is to completely eliminate plastic waste from all deliveries by 2030.
Uber’s future green plans
It’s really only the start, but Uber executives emphasized that they are serious about plans to go green, with CEO Khosrowshahi going so far as saying sustainability is the company’s “north star.” In recent years, the company joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to implement best practices in emissions accounting, target setting, and transparency. In the near future, Uber will provide riders with information on the carbon impact of their trip by displaying the total emissions saved with green ride options. Together with the features outlined above—and in addition to more public transit integration, for instance—Uber is leaning into a culture shift to do more for and better by a climate changing planet.
Chris Dong Chris Dong is a freelance travel writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd).