Uber seeks similar timeline as other tech cos to transition bike taxi fleet to electric in Delhi

Urban mobility firm Uber said on Friday that the timeline for converting its bike taxi fleet in Delhi-NCR to electric should be the same as that for the food and grocery delivery fleet.

The US-based ride-hailing company said in a blog post that “steep and infeasible” EV mandates in the proposed aggregator policy risk killing the bike taxi sector.

According to the state’s draft aggregator policy, 100% of the bike taxi fleet should be electric by the second year of the policy coming into effect and any new onboarding should be 100% electric from the day of notification.

The food delivery space has a more relaxed mandate, with only 10% of the new fleet needing to be converted to electric in six months, 25% in one year, 50% in two years, 75% in three years and 100% in four years.

Further, all aggregators shall be required to transition to an all-electric fleet by 2030.

“Different electrification mandates for ridesharing and delivery sectors not only lead to inequitable sharing of responsibility but seriously disadvantage the entire industry. Two-wheeler ridesharing apps should be seen at parity with others like delivery and services,” Uber said.

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The number of food and grocery delivery rides, it said, far surpasses bike taxi rides but they are being given a more practical timeframe for electrification. “Given the economics around EV vs petrol bikes, tech platforms need to invest heavily to keep driver earnings on EV bikes at parity with petrol bikes, irrespective of delivery or ridesharing. Thus, it is only fair that the timelines for the conversion of the fleet should be the same across sectors,” it said.

Last week, Delhi government issued a public notice asking bike taxi companies to stop services in the city immediately as there were no policies to govern the space.

But the contention around electrification started after state transport minister Kailash Gahlot said following the bike taxi ban that companies can apply for a licence under the upcoming aggregator policy.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), an industry body representing tech companies like Ola, Uber, Rapido, Swiggy, Zomato among others, has also argued against the strong push for electrification in the state’s draft aggregator policy, ET reported on February 22.

The industry body said this would impact the livelihood of gig-economy workers since the same vehicle and driver is now used across categories.

When the 100% EV mandate kicks in, it takes away the gig-workers’ ability to switch to bike taxi operation when the food delivery orders are low, especially during the morning and evening peak hour traffic. This will affect the supply of drivers on ride-hailing apps, which could potentially kill the bike taxi category, industry sources said.

The Delhi government aggregator policy’s first draft, which came out in January last year, had the same rules for tech companies across sectors like food delivery, ecommerce and ride-hailing, but the second draft, released in July 2022, split the rules based on different sectors.

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