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Uber rolls out premium Tesla taxi service in Madrid

Online car service will offer electric vehicles with internet access via a tablet

Uber, the online transportation service available in 557 cities around the world, has chosen the Spanish capital to pioneer UberONE, which from December 22 will provide passengers with internet access aboard a top of the range non-polluting electrically powered car.

The Tesla model to be used in Madrid.
The Tesla model to be used in Madrid.

A forward-looking variation of UberX, the delivery service that already operates in Madrid, or UberBLACK, the premium service offered in the rest of the world, UberONE will use the Tesla Model S, a high-performance, long-range vehicle that costs around €77,000.

By targeting companies and executives with a reasonably priced, environmentally-friendly ride complete with internet access from a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet and Spotify, Uber hopes to carve itself a niche in the luxury transport market in Spain. A trip from Madrid’s Cuzco business area to Barajas airport with UberONE, for example, costs between €30 and €32 – similar to a taxi – while the same route would cost between €18 and €20 with UberX.

Uber wants to be involved in the definitive shift to electric cars

Carles Lloret, Madrid City Hall

In general, UberONE prices vary depending on the duration of the ride and the distance covered. There’s a 45 cents charge for every minute and €1.50 for every kilometer, with a minimum fee of €8 and a fee of €8 for cancellations made less than five minutes before a vehicle is due to arrive. However, when a customer asks for a journey to be priced, the approximate figure is usually accurate. In general, medium to long UberONE journeys cost the same as a taxi while short journeys are more expensive, due to the minimum charge.

UberONE is downloaded via an app and then users create an account and add a method of payment. Users should then indicate their pick up and drop off points. Thanks to the location intelligence system, the app puts the user in contact with the nearest driver. It then displays the number of minutes before pick up as well as the driver’s profile, photo and license plate.

While the cars and their drivers are sourced from affiliates, UberONE guarantees that the car is technically sound and insured, that all drivers are licensed to carry passengers, are checked out for previous traffic offences and are either registered as self-employed or as a company.

The service was launched last week in the capital in the presence of Carles Lloret, Uber’s director general for southern Europe, and Luis Cueto, City Hall’s Chief Coordinator.

“UberONE is another step towards a more sustainable Madrid,” said Lloret. “Uber wants to be involved in the definitive shift to electric cars and, with its strong emphasis on alternative means of transport, Madrid is the ideal city to launch this pioneering service.”

English version by Heather Galloway.

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