Uber South Africa is going electric

Uber is set to introduce its inaugural electric vehicle service in South Africa in the coming months. Originally named Uber Connect and now rebranded as Uber Package, this service enables users to schedule same-day pickups and deliveries within a specific geographical area.

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Commencing its launch in Cape Town in December 2023, Uber will exclusively deploy fully electric vehicles for this delivery service. The company plans to extend the rollout to Johannesburg by February 2024.

As part of its 10th-anniversary celebration in South Africa, Uber unveiled various new products, including Uber Store Pickups, enabling users to book a delivery person to collect prepaid items from any store. Furthermore, Uber will expand its Uber Van service to Cape Town and introduce its luxury rideshare offering, Uber Black, in Durban. The Reserve Airport Pickup feature will also be extended to UberX, Uber Comfort, and Uber XL ride options.

A key addition to Uber’s portfolio is the Uber Eats Live service, allowing users to place delivery orders while away from home or the office. This service caters to venues such as airports, sports stadiums, concert halls, and music festivals, helping users avoid queues at events.

The highlight of the announcement is the introduction of electric scooters for the Uber Package service. Featuring hot-swappable battery packs, these scooters come in two models—one with a 1.5kWh battery, 90km range, and a top speed of 55km/h, and the other with a 4kWh battery, 110km range, and a maximum speed of 95km/h. The innovative battery-swapping system allows drivers to replace depleted batteries with charged ones at designated battery lockers in under a minute, akin to the Taiwanese company Gogoro’s platform.

Uber emphasized that the introduction of electric vehicles in its delivery services aligns with its global initiative to become a zero-emission platform by 2040.

The data shared by Uber about its platform usage in South Africa included intriguing insights, such as the longest distance travelled by a single rider (813.35km), the most popular drop-off destination (OR Tambo International Airport), the peak time for ride requests (14:00), the largest rider tip (R8,816), common items left behind (keys and phones), and the top three nationalities with the highest number of trips (US, UK, and Germany). Additionally, Uber disclosed that the most popular travel day is Friday, covering a total distance equal to 2,300 trips between Earth and the Moon (1.77 billion kilometres) with bookings sufficient to fill FNB Stadium 78 times (7.39 million people).