uber hybrid london boat

UK’s first hybrid commuter boat to ferry passengers along the Thames

Image credit: uber

Uber’s commuter boat service in London is set to switch to using the UK’s first high-speed passenger ferries based on hybrid engines, the ride-hailing firm has said.

Uber launched its Boat service in August 2020, rebranding the existing Thames Clipper vessels, with departures from 23 piers across London from Putney in the west to Woolwich Royal Arsenal in the east.

The firm has now built two new vessels at Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight designed to improve the sustainability credentials of its service.

The hybrid design will allow the new vessels to operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the capital’s Central Zone, which stretches between Tower and Battersea Power Station piers.

The boats will recharge while using biofuelled power outside of central London. The technology is not reliant on shore-based charging; the new boats will use excess power from the biofuelled engines to re-charge their batteries for the central London stretch.

Uber Boat said the new vessels will also be quieter than previous model run on the service. The first vessel will enter service in the autumn of 2022, with the second due to be launched in spring 2023.

As well as being the city’s most eco-friendly passenger boats, these will be Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ quietest vessels.

“After the challenges of the last two years that Covid has set upon businesses, in particular in the transport sector, I’m extremely excited to be increasing our capacity to meet the demands of our customers and partners,” said Sean Collins, Uber Boat CEO. “This development in technology has enabled us to take the first major steps to meet our future environmental vision.

“For over 20 years we have been at the forefront of innovation for the river marine sector. We are committed to supporting the sustainable growth, infrastructure and economic development on and around the river to endorse the river’s importance to London as a form of transport.”

Uber Boat has committed to achieving net zero with all new builds by 2025 and for its wider fleet, infrastructure and environmental footprint by 2040.

Collins continued: “We’re looking ahead with this hybrid design, ensuring easy conversion to green hydrogen or another renewable energy source – something we’re also focusing heavily on with the new projects we’re undertaking thanks to recent DfT funding. It is the next step in our strategy to net zero and, ultimately, tailpipe zero.”

Following a High Court ruling last month, Uber is being forced to change the business model for its ride-hailing service that could mean it has to pay 20 per cent more in VAT per trip.

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