In its battles with local government, Uber is happy to burnish its green credentials when it thinks doing so will help it curry favor. In Madrid, where the taxi service was banned until March this year for its use of unlicensed drivers, Uber recently introduced a fleet of electric Teslas (the Model S) for its licensed drivers. According to Reuters, Uber’s Carles Lloret said the company hopes using these cars will improve its image in the city, which has long struggled with car pollution.
Over the past couple of years, Madrid has introduced a number of measures aimed at reducing pollution and car-use. These include limiting drivers’ speeds on certain roads in the city, and fining those who travel through Madrid’s center but don’t live there. Uber itself was banned from the city in 2014, with a judge ruling that it use of amateur drivers was unfair to existing taxi services. It was allowed back this March, but the company says it’s being restricted from expanding too much.
Lloret told Reuters that Uber hopes the Teslas will encourage a more generous approach from Madrid’s local government. “We want to do things that are in line with what the town hall wants,” he said. “We would love to see more licenses awarded in the future, perhaps for greener cars so there could be more in circulation.”
This isn’t the first time Uber has introduced electric vehicles . Earlier this year, it started trials using fully-electric cars in Portugal and London. In the UK capital, the company said it was “determined” to help tackle air pollution, but stressed that rolling out more fully-electric vehicles would need greater infrastructure support in the form of chargers. The company certainly takes advantage of green politics to push its service, but customers likely won’t complain — especially if they get a ride in a Tesla.