Uber and Arrival have teamed up to create electric taxis.

Uber and Arrival have teamed up to create electric taxis.
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Arrival, an electric vehicle manufacturer based in the United Kingdom, plans to begin producing cars by 2023 with design assistance from Uber, marking the latest step in the company’s ambitious plans to enter the automotive industry.

The car, designed specifically for use by ride-hailing drivers, will be Arrival’s first, joining buses and urban delivery vans already on UK roads this year.

Uber, the market leader in ride-hailing in the United States, said it would look into a “strategic relationship” in key markets such as the United Kingdom and the European Union. However, no money will be exchanged, and the agreement is not yet exclusive.

Arrival’s senior vice president of mobility, Tom Elvidge, stated that production could take place in the United Kingdom, though no final decision on factory locations has been made.

The car’s design aims to be more comfortable for drivers who spend hours a day behind the wheel, and it uses durable, easy-to-clean materials. A front passenger seat that folds down to accommodate more luggage and a panoramic glass roof are possible additions.

Elvidge stated that it would be “fundamentally something that is built and designed from the ground up with ride-hailing in mind,” rather than aimed at consumers. “There are a lot of things we think we can improve on and elevate the experience when we start with a blank sheet of paper.”

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However, because ride-hailing drivers are generally classified as independent contractors, anyone could theoretically purchase the Arrival car. Arrival, according to Elvidge, “wouldn’t stop consumers from buying it.”

The announcement comes just over a month after Arrival listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

At the end of last week, the company was valued at $11.3 billion (£8.2 billion) by investors BlackRock and Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia.

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That was a significant accomplishment for a company that has yet to begin proper production – and which, as recently as November, was aiming for a valuation of half that amount. Denis Sverdlov, a Russian former telecoms entrepreneur, founded it in 2014.

Arrival’s long-awaited foray into electric vehicles will pit it directly against the world’s largest automakers, such as Volkswagen and Toyota, as well as electric taxi specialists, such as Chinese-owned LEVC, another UK-based company that makes all-electric black cabs for London, as well as small vans on the same design.

The car will be built on the same principles as Arrival’s battery electric buses and vans, which will use robot-heavy “micro factories” near key markets to undercut traditional carmakers that rely on highly efficient but expensive production lines.

Elvidge stated that Arrival aimed to produce a car at roughly the same upfront cost as comparables powered by internal combustion engines. The final price will be determined by its design, but the cost savings on fueling and maintaining electric vehicles could result in a significantly lower cost over the life of the vehicle.

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The collaboration with Uber could allow the car to interact directly with the app, potentially allowing the ride-hailing company to match passengers with cars that have sufficient battery range.

Uber, which is embroiled in a legal battle in the United Kingdom over the employment status of its drivers, is eager to tout its environmental credentials. In March, the company announced that customers in London, its largest UK market, would be able to choose only electric vehicles, and it hopes to ban internal combustion engine cars in the city by 2025.

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