Uber has commenced a trial run for a new initiative to give drivers the ability to set their own fares and make them independent operators rather than employees.
Already select drivers are currently experimenting with the scheme in some cities in the United States, with the ultimate aim at granting them (drivers) more autonomy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Uber drivers in Palm Springs, Sacramento, and Santa Barbara in California had been given the ability to determine their own fares, as part of an Uber test designed to “give them more autonomy in response to the state’s new gig-economy law.”
This feature, the report stated, “makes drivers part of a bidding system which gives those with the lowest prices the first customers.
“As a result, Uber claims that such a feature gives the drivers more autonomy, therefore allowing them to continue to be classified as independent contractors rather than as employees.”
It also noted that the new arrangement would complement the changes Uber made in December for its California workers.
It added that drivers could see trip information before accepting or rejecting it without punishment and be selected as user favourites if given a five-star rating.
Meanwhile, Uber’s agreement with Nissan to introduce a fleet of 2,000 Leaf hatchbacks for its drivers is said to be part of a broader push from the company to go all-electric in London from 2025.
It comes as Uber appeals a decision from regulators to ban it from operating in London, according to a CNBC report.
The CNBC report quoted Uber as saying on Friday that it would offer drivers in the UK electric cars from Nissan at a discount, as it faced a potential ban in London.
It stated, “The ride-hailing operator has signed an agreement with Nissan to introduce a fleet of 2,000 of the Japanese automaker’s Leaf hatchbacks for drivers using its app in Britain.
“While the deal is technically open to all UK drivers, it’s primarily targeted at those working in London.”

Electric Nissan Leaf
Electric Nissan Leaf

This is said to be part of a broader push from Uber to tackle air pollution in the UK capital by ensuring all of its vehicles are fully electric by 2025.
In 2018, the company announced plans to charge passengers in London 15 pence per mile on every trip to help its drivers buy electric cars.
That fee had so far helped raise over £80m ($105m) since its introduction, Uber said, adding that it expected to pull in £200m in total over the next few years.
Uber said it had seen a 350 per cent increase in rides being taken with electric vehicles since the clean air charge was introduced.
The deal with Nissan came at a difficult time for the company, which faces being blocked in the UK’s capital after Transport for London stripped it of its licence.
Uber has since appealed the move and can continue operating in the city while it fights the ban in the court.
Uber’s vehicle of choice, the Nissan Leaf, is said to be among the best-selling electric cars with over 450,000 sales.
The report noted that the company’s efforts on clean energy were not a coincidence as London Mayor Sadiq Khan had made it his priority to clean up the city’s dirty air.
A strict daily charge of £12.50 was said to have been imposed on drivers of older, polluting petrol and diesel vehicles in an area dubbed low emission zone.

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