Uber Expands Uber Comfort, Waymo to Participate in New AV Pilot Program
This week, Softbank injects $250 million into Ola Electric, Waymo will begin participating in California’s EV Pilot Program, and Uber Comfort gives special attention to customers at a lower price point than Uber Black.
Uber Unveils New Level of Service
Some Uber riders have long complained about not having enough legroom during their rides or drivers who want to talk during the entire trip.
In response to these egregious offenses, Uber recently launched a new service tier called Uber Comfort. Pricing falls just below Uber Black, their flagship service tier.
Features of Uber Comfort rides include more legroom and “Quiet Mode,” which allows riders to request a silent ride. Riders can also request specific temperature settings within the app. Drivers will set the temperature prior to picking riders up, so it’s not too hot or cold.
Uber Comfort drivers are required to have a rating of 4.85 or higher and a late-model, midsize sedan to participate.
Uber Comfort is now available in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Connecticut, Dallas, Fresno, Hampton Roads, Houston, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New Orleans, Omaha, Orange County, Ottawa, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Rhode Island, Richmond, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tucson, Wichita, and Washington D.C.
How well will the service do? With a lower price point than Uber Black but higher than the popular Uber X service, it’s too early to tell.
Softbank Injects $250M Into Ola Electric
After the Indian Government ordered both Ola and Uber to convert 40% of its fleet to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2026, Ola Electric has been working hard to beef up its program.
Ola Electric’s latest Series B financing round led by Softbank included a $250-million investment in the company.
Ola Electric has already been working on electric vehicles for years. This latest cash infusion will allow them to put 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of this year. They plan to put a million similar vehicles on the road in the “coming” years.
Ride-sharing giant Ola, the parent company of Ola Electric, recently partnered with EV manufacturers to meet Ola Electric’s government mandate.
With this recent investment by Softbank, as well as a $300-million investment from Hyundai and Kia into parent company Ola, Ola Electric will continue to dominate India’s ride-hailing market and make a significant impact on carbon emissions at the same time.
California Permits Waymo to Participate in AV Pilot Program
Autonomous vehicle operator Waymo recently received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to participate in their AV Passenger Service Pilot.
The program allows Waymo to operate AV services in specific areas of California with a safety driver in the car.
Four companies have received permits, including Zoox, Pony.ai, Autox, and Waymo. The companies are not allowed to be paid for rides.
The government program was passed in California last year and includes two programs: one with a safety driver and one without. So far, no permits have been issued for the driverless portion of the program.
Waymo is already a leader in AV programs after opening the first commercial autonomous car service in Phoenix, Arizona.
Though the company can’t yet charge for rides, participating in a government pilot program in Arizona was how they found their first riders for the Waymo One service. They are quickly on their way to becoming the Uber of AV programs.
Indian Government Provides Tax Incentives to EV Buyers
India is getting serious about reducing emissions.
In addition to requiring Uber and Ola to convert 40% of their fleet to EVs by 2026, the Indian government announced a tax rebate for electric vehicle buyers.
The rebate will provide ₹1.5 lakh (about $2,000 in USD) to any driver that purchases an electric vehicle in the country.
India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the government’s intention to develop a local manufacturing hub for EV parts in the country.
With a population of over one billion, it’s wonderful to see India taking steps to help reduce the amount of pollution created by the country’s drivers. By encouraging drivers to take advantage of the tax rebate, they are well on their way to helping the world become a greener place.
Food Delivery Apps Will Have 38M Users by Next Year
According to the data scientists at eMarketer, food delivery services will have approximately 38 million users in the US by the end of the year. This is a 21.8% jump over 2018’s numbers.
DoorDash (27.6%) and Grubhub (26.7%) continue to dominate the market, with a relatively new player on the scene, Caviar, appearing in the bottom slot with 2.7% of market share.
As the number of smartphone users increases, eMarketer estimates 60 million smartphone users will order food delivery at least once a month.
With the rise of “ghost kitchens” being used for food delivery, the industry could well surpass expectations. As with ride-hailing platforms, services like these continue to help reduce carbon emissions in the United States and beyond.