Uber is planning to shift its focus from cars to electric bicycles and scooters for shorter journeys, the taxi app’s chief executive has revealed.
Dara Khosrowshahi said individual modes of transport were better suited to inner-city travel, despite taking revenues away from Uber’s drivers.
He admitted the move would result in more short-term financial losses for the company, which lost $4.5bn (£3.5bn) last year and is planning to go public in 2019.
Mr Khosrowshahi told the Financial Times: “During rush hour, it is very inefficient for a one-ton hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks.
“Short term financially, maybe it’s not a win for us, but strategically long term we think that is exactly where we want to head.”
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi
Mr Khosrowshahi said Uber makes less money from a bike ride than the same journey in a car, but that he expected this to be offset by customers using the app for more journeys more frequently.
He told the FT: “I’ve found in my career that engagement over the long term wins wars and sometimes it’s worth it to lose battles in order to win wars.”
Uber first added bicycles to its app in February, and acquired the bike-sharing company Jump for about $200m (£155m) in April.
Jump bikes are currently available in eight US cities, including New York, Chicago and Washington DC, and are preparing to launch in Berlin.
An Uber spokesman told Sky News that other European cities would follow shortly but he was unable to say when this would include the UK.
Jump bikes are currently available in eight US cities
Mr Khosrowshahi, who became Uber’s chief executive last year, has also struck deals with electric scooter company Lime and Masabi, a London-based app that provides mobile ticketing for public transport.
Earlier this month, London mayor Sadiq Khan revealed he was seeking powers to limit the number of Uber drivers in the capital.
Mr Khan said a “huge increase” in mini cabs in the city was causing increased congestion and pollution, and was leaving many drivers struggling to earn a living.
The number of private hire drivers in London has almost doubled from 60,000 in 2011 to 110,000, Mr Khan said.
Meanwhile, in June, Westminster Magistrates’ Court overturned a ban on Uber imposed by Transport for London late last year and granted the firm a 15-month licence to operate in London.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, told Sky News: “Uber’s move away from cars shows how little it cares about the livelihoods of its drivers.
“It’s clearly running scared, with New York introducing a cap on Uber vehicles and London only granting them a licence to operate under strict conditions.
“A leopard doesn’t change its spots. Uber is not a fit and proper transport operator, and we will continue to hold it to account.”