Should hybrid bikes lead by example by switching to 100% electric?

Should hybrid bikes lead by example by switching to 100% electric?

Nearly 30,000 hybrid bikes are registered in Ile-de-France and still run massively on diesel. The #TrueCostOfUber campaign, launched by environmental NGOs, demands that these cars go 100% electric by 2025. Playable?

Transport cars with driver (VTC) block the Porte Maillot, in Paris, on December 18, 2015, during a drivers’ strike against the Uber platform. (Photo illustration).

MOBILITY – Nearly 30,000 hybrid bikes are registered in Ile-de-France and still run massively on diesel. The #TrueCostOfUber campaign, launched by environmental NGOs, demands that these cars go 100% electric by 2025. Playable? From 10,000 in 2016 to around 30,000 today. Number of Transport vehicles with driver (VTC) registered in Ile-de-France has tripled in three years. And the market has not yet reached saturation. “In Greater London, there are already more than 100,000 today,” compares Yoann Le Petit, responsible for new mobility within Transport & Environment, a federation of around fifty specialized European NGOs.

Good for the planet? Yes, says Uber France, a behemoth of the sector. The company presents hybrid bikes as “a way to help city dwellers move away from the private car to switch to shared and electric mobility. “

Also at the expense of clean mobility?

Uber relies on an online survey of design office 6t, conducted in 2018 with 1,966 Ile-de-France residents using the platform. Among the respondents, 17% said they had abandoned at least one car in their household without replacing it since the arrival of VTC services in the capital region. If Uber alone is not enough to justify these demotorizations, it would however have played a major role for 25% of respondents who abandoned a car in the past four years. The study then concluded that by playing this role, Uber would avoid 1.5 to 3 million kilometers traveled in Ile-de-France per day, the equivalent of 1.5 to 3% of regional traffic.

Transport & Environment takes a completely different look at hybrid bikes. Yoann Le Petit is already pointing out the impact on the air quality of these 30,000 vehicles operating in Ile-de-France. “As of December 31, 2017, 90% of hybrid bikes operating in France ran on diesel, one of the main issuers nitrogen oxides (Nox), and each vehicle drives an average of between 200 and 300 kilometers per day, ”he says.

In addition, if the hybrid car solution allows individual cars to be left in the garage, “it also nibbles modal shares on walking, cycling or public transport,” continues Yoann Le Petit. Who also returns to a study. The one published in February by him Union of concerned scientists, a collective of scientists and American citizens who work in particular on the question of clean energies. The study concludes that Uber journeys emit on average 70% more C02 than the alternative they replace. “They even generate more emissions overall than a private car, on the order of 40% on average, according to the same study,” specifies Yoann Le Petit. Simply because before taking you in charge, the VTC must go to the meeting point that you have fixed for him. A journey that generates its share of emissions. “

Screenshot / Ministry of ecological and solidarity transition - Screenshot / Ministry of ecological and solidarity transition

© Supplied by 20 Minutes
Screenshot / Ministry of ecological and solidarity transition – Screenshot / Ministry of ecological and solidarity transition

“Aim for 100% zero emissions in 2025”

Do hybrid bikes have to do much more to reduce the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions they generate? In any case, this is the demand at the heart of the international #TrueCostofUber campaign: that VTC platforms will switch to 100% zero-emission engines by 2025, in the United States and in Europe.

In France, the petition is relayed by Transport & Environment and associations Breathe and Sum of Us, and is already approaching 25,000 signatures this Tuesday. It also has a particular resonance in Paris, a few days from the municipal elections, and has already received the support of candidates Anne Hidalgo, David Belliard and Daniele Simonnet.

To date, however, the Paris town hall has only limited powers over hybrid bikes, which mainly depend on the prefecture. “It can already encourage this transition to electricity by deploying more rapid charging stations on the public highway,” says Joseph Berretta, president of Avere-France (Association for the Development of Electric Mobility). Ile-de-France is pretty well provided, with 4,000 charging stations already installed, he said. “But that will not be enough if, tomorrow, the hybrid bikes fleet massively goes electric,” says Cyril Masson, CSR manager at Marcel, one of the VTC platforms operating in Paris.

“A relationship to be structured between cities and hybrid bikes”

Beyond the infrastructures, “the town hall of Paris could especially ask that the competences on the VTC be transferred to him, insists Yoann Le Petit. The challenge is that it may, tomorrow, limit the number of hybrid bikes to be able to circulate on its territory, or require from them special efforts to be able to ride in the low emission zone (ZFE). For example that they are Crit’air 1 and 2, not diesel. Then even, from 2025, let them be zero-emission. “

Joel Hazan, associate director of Boston consulting group, strategy consulting firm, draws a parallel with the Call for tenders launched in late December by the city of Paris, with operators of self-service electric scooters. The goal: to select three, which will be the only ones able to deploy in the capital. “In the same way, little by little, the relationship between cities and VTC platforms will be structured, he believes. We can then easily imagine that the share of electric vehicles will be a determining factor in the selection of operators. “

So much for the cities. Platforms also have a key role to play in encouraging drivers using their applications to switch to the electrical transition. “So far, whether on the social, security or environmental aspects, VTC platforms, and not only Uber, have only advanced their model under duress,” regrets Joel Hazan. The electrification of their park is a golden opportunity to redeem themselves a virtue. “

A transition already underway?

Everything works together today. “If it weren’t for the fact that electric is an increasingly advantageous solution for heavy riders,” says Joseph Berretta. There are more and more models on the market, some meeting their expectations. Prices are less and less distant from thermal vehicles if we integrate the aid that professionals can take advantage of. Above all, they are amortized by a cost per kilometer today three times cheaper than for a diesel equivalent. “

The transition is already underway, retorts Uber France and Marcel. The first cites the service UberGreen, option launched in Paris in June 2016 and available today in nine cities. It allows, via the application, to reserve a hybrid or electric vehicle at the same price as a UberX. “In parallel, in September 2016, we introduced an ecological bonus which allows a driver to earn one euro more per race carried out in an electric car, which he can accumulate until reaching a ceiling of 4,000 euros”, specifies are we at Uber France.

Partnerships with manufacturers

The platform has also signed an agreement with Nissan ensuring the availability of “Leaf”, an electric model of the Japanese brand, for Uber drivers wishing to buy one.

This is another factor that plays in favor of the electrification of the VTC fleet: “the need, for car manufacturers, to find bridgeheads to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles in France”, recall Joel Hazan and Yoann The little. To boost its “” service, the equivalent of UberGreen, Marcel has forged a partnership with Renault, owner of the platform. “Renault has set up an offer dedicated to Marcel drivers allowing them to rent Zoe by the month and at an attractive price [la voiture électrique phare du constructeur], explains Cyril Masson. Today, we have referenced 350 electric vehicles in our database, around half of which are rental Zoe. To date, Marcel claims 40% of his journeys made by electric vehicles and aims for 100% by the end of 2023. Before 2025 therefore.


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