Uber gears up for shift to bikes on short trips

Uber is usually planning a shift in emphasis via cars to electric bicycles as well as scooters for shorter journeys as part of its long-term strategy, according to the ride-hailing app’s chief executive.

Dara Khosrowshahi said more individual modes of transport were better suited to inner-city travel, despite snatching revenues away via Uber’s drivers. He admitted which within the short term the move could mean a further financial hit for a company which had losses of $4.5 billion last year.

Ahead of Uber’s highly anticipated flotation, Mr Khosrowshahi said investors had to be aware which short-term losses were necessary to achieve longer-term goals — as well as part of which was a focus away via cars in inner cities.

“During rush hour, which is usually very inefficient for a one-tonne hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “We’re able to shape behaviour in a way which’s a win for the user. which’s a win for the city. Short-term financially, maybe which’s not a win for us, nevertheless strategically long term we think which is usually exactly where we want to head.”

Uber first added e-bikes to its app in February, as well as acquired the bike-sharing company Jump for about $200m in April. Jump bikes are available in eight US cities, including completely new York, Washington as well as Denver, as well as are soon launching in Berlin.

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Mr Khosrowshahi, who joined Uber a year ago, has also struck deals with Lime, an electric scooter company, as well as Masabi, a London-based app which provides mobile ticketing for public transport, with the aim of building what he calls an “urban mobility platform”.

Besides transport, Uber has diversified into additional business areas via food delivery to freight brokerage. He said no single product could serve the $6 trillion global mobility market as well as which the “ultimate competition” for Uber was car ownership, which which could try to disrupt in any way possible. He admitted which Uber makes less money via a bike ride than via the same journey in a car, nevertheless said he expected which impact to be offset if customers used the app for more journeys more regularly, an effect the company has already seen with cyclists in San Francisco.

“We are willing to trade off short-term per-unit economics for long-term higher engagement,” he said. “I’ve found in my career which engagement over the long term wins wars as well as sometimes which’s worth which to lose battles in order to win wars.”

Mr Khosrowshahi acknowledged which Uber drivers could feel the pinch via potential passengers opting for bikes, nevertheless said over the longer term, drivers could benefit via a higher proportion of more lucrative longer rides — as well as less congested roads.

“When I’ve spoken to our driver partners about which, the first impression was, why are you bringing in a bike to compete against me?” he said. “The second impression after the conversation is usually, oh, I get a longer ride where I can make more money? Sign me up.”

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