Uber has acquired car-sharing platform Car Next Door for an undisclosed amount, which it says fits perfectly with its sustainable electric vehicle initiatives.
The 10-year-old car-sharing company currently operates in all Australian state capitals as well as the Gold Coast and Cairns in Queensland, Launceston in Tasmania and Newscastle in New South Wales.
While Car Next Door also allows owners of combustion engine vehicles to share their cars, the announcement from global ride-sharing company Uber emphasizes that the acquisition of Car Next Door is in line with its broader investments aimed at cleaning up the transport sector.
These include encouraging the use of electric cars in London, piloting the rollout of EV chargers and partnering with British electric van and bus startup Arrival. In total, Uber says it has invested $800 million globally to “drive adoption of electric vehicles and integrate micromobility and public transportation options into the Uber app.”
For Car Next Door, the car-sharing model allows owners to reap a financial return on the cost of purchasing their vehicles, which in the case of electric vehicles is higher than for thermal vehicles.
It is not clear whether car sharing, which can reduce the number of private car owners, also leads to less car use; in fact, having cars available for sharing could have the opposite effect of encouraging more people to use a car instead of taking public transport.
However, Uber’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Dom Taylor, says the acquisition will allow the ride-sharing giant to expand its offerings from short rides to longer distances.
“This deal will change that and mean that the Uber platform can be a reliable and convenient alternative to choosing to own a car,” he said.
Will Davies, who founded Car Next Door and is the company’s CEO, said the deal will enable the company to act on its ambitions to increase and reduce Australian drivers’ reliance on private vehicles.
“We know that many of our members are already combining carpooling and carpooling with shared bikes and scooters, walking and public transport for a mobility mix that suits their lifestyle,” he said in a statement.
“We see this agreement as a big step towards making car-free or car-light living accessible to more people in more places and freeing up space for people, not parking.”
In 2019, South Korean automaker Hyundai invested some $6 million in Car Next Door and lists a small fleet of Ioniq electric cars on the platform.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor of The Driven, sister site to Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018 and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emission transport must play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is a co-organizer of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and offers it for hire on evee.com.au.