Uber is ditching diesel cars in London

Timeline: Uber's management crisis
Timeline: Uber's management crisis

Uber has pledged to stop using diesel cars in London.

The company said its diesel ban would take effect at the end of 2019. It will only allow hybrid and fully electric cars on its standard UberX service from the same date.

The move comes amid a growing diesel backlash in Europe, where Britain and France have already announced plans to end sales of new gas and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040.

The policy shifts have been motivated by concerns over climate change and pollution caused by dirty engines.

London exceeded the European Union's annual limit for nitrogen dioxide exposure just five days into the new year in 2017. King's College, meanwhile, estimates that air pollution is responsible for 9,400 premature deaths in the city each year.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has made cleaner air one of his top priorities.

He has announced new "ultra low emission zones" that will be in place by September 2020. All vehicles entering the inner London will have to meet strict emission standards, or pay a special fee.

Related: London is trying to solve its pollution problem

The city is also offering taxi drivers grants worth as much as £5,000 ($6,600) if they upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

Uber said Friday that it would match the city's offer and allow drivers to claim up to £5,000 ($6,600) towards an upgrade.

The deep-pocketed startup said it would kickstart the £150 million ($198 million) fund next month with an initial £2 million ($2.6 million) investment.

Related: These countries want to ditch gas and diesel cars

But London users will be charged an additional £0.35 ($0.46) per ride to help fund the scheme.

Just under half of all vehicles on the app in London are already hybrid or electric. Uber said that every vehicle should be electric by 2025.

At least one analyst questioned Uber's intentions.

"Uber is on a charm offensive ahead of a likely IPO," said John Colley, a professor at Warwick Business School.

"They have to start somewhere with attempting to counter the continuing bad publicity occasioned by further announcements of more litigation," he said.

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