Uber hires UK's Arrival to build electric taxis

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
Arrival's president and chief strategy officer Avinash Rugoobur, left, and founder Denis Sverdlov. Photo: Arrival
Arrival's president and chief strategy officer Avinash Rugoobur, left, and founder Denis Sverdlov. Photo: Arrival

Uber (UBER) has signed a deal with UK-headquartered electric vehicle company Arrival (ARVL) to build electric taxis.

Uber and Arrival announced the partnership on Tuesday. Uber said the deal was part of its efforts to go green.

"As our cities open up we have an opportunity to make sure that urban transport is cleaner than ever before," said Jamie Heywood, Uber's regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe.

"Uber is committed to helping every driver in London upgrade to an EV by 2025, and thanks to our Clean Air Plan more than £135m has been raised to support this ambition. 

"Our focus is now on encouraging drivers to use this money to help them upgrade to an electric vehicle, and our partnership with Arrival will help us achieve this goal.”

READ MORE: Arrival becomes UK's biggest tech IPO with $13bn Nasdaq float

Arrival will work with Uber drivers to design a purpose-built electric car suited to the needs of taxi drivers, the companies said. The final design is expected to be published by the end of this year and production is slated for the second half of 2023.

"We are confident that electrifying ride-hailing vehicles will have an outsized impact on cities, and we are keen to support drivers as they manage this transition," said Tom Elvidge, senior vice-president of Arrival Mobility UK. "Arrival Car will be designed around drivers’ needs to create a vehicle that is affordable, durable and desirable."

Arrival was founded in 2015 and is headquartered between Bicester, England, and London. The company has developed new methods of building electric vehicles through so-called "microfactories" that are much smaller and cheaper than traditional manufacturing bases.

Arrival's electric vans. Photo: Arrival
Arrival's electric vans. Photo: Arrival

While vehicles are yet to go into full commercial production, Arrival has announced trials of its electric buses with FirstGroup (FGP.L) in the UK and has been working with UPS (UPS) since 2016. The delivery firm is an “anchor customer” and has signed a deal to buy up to 10,000 of Arrival’s electric vans when production begins.

Read more: Uber loses UK Supreme Court case on driver rights

"We have had great success working alongside key partners to create our best-in-class delivery van, and we hope to replicate that success with Uber as we develop the best possible product for ride hailing that elevates the experience of the passenger and improves drivers’ health, safety and finances," Elvidge said.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Arrival went public in New York in March through a SPAC deal that valued the company at $13bn on completion. The transaction made Arrival the biggest UK tech float in history.

Shares have since sold-off on the Nasdaq (^IXIC) and Arrival now has a market value closer to $10.5bn.

"The share price will be market driven," Avinash Rugoobur, Arrival’s president and chief strategy officer, told Yahoo Finance UK at the time of the SPAC close. "It doesn’t matter if its Arrival or Tesla or Google or any industry for that matter — it’s going to have times where its up and down. That part is not fully in our control so we focus on what we can fully control."

Watch: What are SPACs?