Please excuse the YUUUGE post! I am an infrequent trader on the stock market and have a lot of spare time. As my P85 approached its second birthday I realized I was running out of work acquaintances, neighbours, friends and family who I could show/demo my car to. (all demos were effective, natch!) Last September, a friend mentioned to me that I could drive for Uber, I decided to give it a try, and I’ve been driving my car for Uber+Lyft in and around Austin on a part-time basis since then. After 5 months doing it I felt ready to put this post together. Driving for Uber/Lyft has been ideal for me. I had been driving my car around for pleasure drives… I simply enjoy being in it and travelling around in it. I enjoy showing it off and talking about the company. And now I get paid to do all of that! As any rideshare driver will tell you, a lot of the miles you drive are not paid for. Driving towards a rider to pick them up, and then driving wherever you choose to go after you’ve dropped them off, are not paid for. Therefore there can be a lot of unpaid miles getting added to your car, and one endeavours to minimise that. Another way to protect yourself from wasted time is to weed out the lower-paying rideshare grades; for this reason, I rarely accept uberX or Lyft rides. I concentrate on uberSelect and uberLUX. uberLUX pays me $3.75 per mile during rides. The Tesla Model S can be quite profitable on this sort of ride; here are my costs, as far as I can reckon: * Tires are currently costing me about $1,200 for 30,000 miles, or $0.0592/mile. * Electricity costs me $0.118 per kWh at home, and since I’m averaging 329Wh/mile, that is $0.0388/mile. * The “yearly” service inspections are $740 every 12,500 miles (alignment is $140), or $0.0592/mile. * The extended service agreement (nearest thing to an extended warranty) is $4000 per 50,000 miles, or $0.08/mile, and I did not buy this when my car passed through the 50,000 mile mark recently. So I’m going to leave “service work” out of my calculation for now, as the costs are going to be all over the place and hard to predict. All that added up is $0.1268 per mile (plus service)… so I reap about $3.62 per paid mile driven. The effective rate is lower due to the unpaid miles drive, and also uberSelect pays less than uberLUX. Along with an initial, one-time fee for riders to get into the car, rideshare services also pay you a separate income for each minute on the trip. uberLUX pays $5.00 per ride, and $0.50 per minute during the ride. So if you get stuck in a traffic jam, you earn more money (but you have fewer rides in a day), and if you are able to drive fast to your destination you don’t make as much (but you can have more rides in a day). One of the things you learn as an EV owner is, driving slower uses less energy/mile. Or, driving over the speed limit just to get your rider to a destination quickly actually uses more energy/mile. So the incentive to drive slower is really there – as you don’t have to recharge so often (i.e. you spend less money recharging), it is safer – obviously – and there is the possibility of extending the journey (which earns more money). Why would I admit to this? (Surely riders are reading.) I’m not artificially extending the journey by driving ridiculously slowly, I am just driving at/near the posted speed limits - which is sometimes slower than some of the other traffic, but, I like the idea of enhanced safety. I haven’t had any complaints about road speed from riders yet. My self-stated priorities are: #1 safety of my riders and everyone on the road; #2 passenger comfort; and #3 timeliness. #2 actually enhances mileage, because smooth driving allows for better energy economy and of course I maximize regenerative braking when possible – which also extends battery life in the long run. It actually pays to drive carefully and gently – who knew!?!?! I do give rides to uberX and Lyft riders from time to time, based on circumstances. They are always the most delighted of all, of course, and it’s usually very enjoyable for me and for them - even more so than the higher uber grades. The initial reason I started driving for these rideshare services is to bring the EV and the Tesla brand to more people, and as of this writing I’ve done about a thousand rides in and around Austin. Prior to this I still did a lot of “test drives around the block” or some such demo route. What’s great about ridesharing is that the riders are experiencing a real-world trip in the Tesla, and really getting to evaluate the car on a trip they truly need to do. To the airport, or barhopping, going out to eat, or getting home from dropping their own car off at the service place, carrying luggage, or whatever – these are often roads and routes the riders know personally, and they get to see how the Tesla shines at those tasks. Many of these riders would never get into a Tesla car themselves – they would simply rule it out based on the price of the car. What I am doing is getting people into a Tesla before they realise they really want it! I'm definitely generating Model 3 interest - the brand and cars will be on the riders' radar after their Tesla uber ride, and the Model 3 reveal will have more meaning for them. Most riders reveal it’s their first time in a Tesla. Some have really been looking forward to it! Some were actually jumping for joy as I approached and giggling with excitement as they climbed in. Others didn’t really know too much about the brand, and some had not heard of Tesla at all (don't worry, I go easy on 'em). Everyone leaves happy. There have been very few people unhappy with the car when they are done with the trip – I can count them all on the fingers of one hand, and can only remember two at present. They thought the interior of the car was too cold, machine-like and soulless. (I knew what they were getting at… but simply don’t agree myself) Another said “yeah, the back seat ride isn’t the same as my Mercedes S Class, they’ll never catch up with that Mercedes ride.” (I guess 25% large luxury market share indicates that a lot of buyers are willing to do without whatever the Mercedes ride is.) Almost everyone has said that my car is their best ever Uber experience, or at least, the best Uber car they’ve ridden in. I usually ask what the previous best cars were, and the answers are usually some sort of Mercedes or Range Rover. (uberLUX, remember) One tourist from Washington DC said, “In DC we usually end up with some sort of Escalade crap… this is way better! I drive an Alpina B7 and I am definitely impressed with this.” Another made the unprompted remark “I have been in all sorts of Mercedes and BMW cars… but this basically redefines what the term ‘luxury’ really means!” Another rider explained that they owned a BMW 550 and a Range Rover, and this seemed nicer than both of those. An uber driver who pulled up in his 12-year-old Mercedes AMG63 looked at the interior of my car and declared it was the most beautiful car he had ever seen! Everyone loves the amount of space. I make sure that the front passenger seat isn’t slid back too much… helping back seat riders to get lots of legroom. Riders ask me if I like the car, what the range is, how long it takes to charge, and what the downsides are. I mention the absence of grab handles and coat hooks… which no-one notices until I point it out. In the grand scheme of things, those are tiny problems! Several riders have fallen asleep in my car. I consider this an honor, even if it's 'cos they're partly drunk! The car rides so gently that I make it my goal to keep them asleep until the end of the journey The more savvy riders opine that the maintenance might not be too substantial, if it has no gasoline engine, and they ask me what the servicing is like – but they’re still surprised when I tell them there is no required servicing. I do follow that up by informing them that there is a “common sense yearly inspection” that is a good idea to do... just to make sure nothing is falling off the car! Still on maintenance - for those riders really interested in the operation of the drivetrain I tell them to look at the speedometer with its green and orange power indicators while I drive. They’re impressed to learn that I hardly press the brake, and even more so when I tell them the car has only worn 1mm off the brake pads after 50,000 miles. The one question I can’t really answer is “how long does the battery last before you need a new one?” This being because IMO it is multiple years and no-one has seen so much degradation that they really needed a replacement yet. (am I wrong?) Despite the fact that I have grown used to the silent operation of my car and hear nothing except a cacophony of creaks, rattles and other noises from around the car, riders uniformly agree the car is unexpectedly quiet and glides like it is hovering. I guess I have been in it so long that I have forgotten how truly exceptional the ride is. One of the responsibilities you have as a ridesharing driver is to keep the riders happy and avoid annoying them with your opposing political views, so I definitely don’t reveal my political leanings, but I also try to keep the environmental preaching to a minimum. Sometimes I don’t mention anything about the car at all… it depends on how talkative the riders are and if I think they will be receptive to it. Many riders conclude “yeah I would definitely get one of these if I had the money,” but there is one group of riders who find it very difficult to like – those connected with the fossil fuel industries! (of which there are a lot in Texas) I hear them say “it’s nice, but I can’t get one on principle, I work in the oil business, I'd be insulting the boss” or “I want this car so bad, but my family is in the oil business so they won’t let me have one.” I figure it’s enough of a win that I have gotten oil business people into the car in the first place. The car sells itself. I figure a lot of them avoid electric cars and their only opportunity would be via the random drawing process of uber+Lyft. Naturally I don’t kick these people out of my car! And I work hard to keep my mouth shut on the environmental issues. Another group I’d like to give a piece of my mind to, if I had the opportunity, would be car dealers, and I’ve had quite a few in the car. Some of them had no idea what a Tesla was! The others, I was happy to give them a demo experience. Some Audi chaps were very interested to experience the car, and I told them Audi needed to release an electric car! They agreed The one group of people I have not had the chance to give rides to, that I still look forward to, is Texas legislators, the kind who are legitimizing the franchised dealer monopoly in Texas - and who work in Austin, naturally. I would have to try hard to not upset them I expect I’d be positive, pointing out that the car is American Manufacturing progress, safe, helps the environment etc.. Even if I said nothing at all, the quality of the car would probably have an effect on them. How does the car shape up for uber/Lyft work? I love it when passengers realise how much storage space there is. This generally happens during trips to/from the airport. One time a lady was driving across country from southern Texas up to Dallas for a family gathering, and her car broke down w/ 3 family members and a ton of cargo. It all fit into my car with no problem – including use of the frunk - and I was able to take them to a hotel. This sort of “good Samaritan” event makes me happy I got the car. Another rider who happened to own a Tesla was cycling down Highway 360 when the pedal fell off his bicycle! He was happy to show that his bike fits perfectly inside the trunk of my car without folding down the back seat. The Navigation feature of the car is a mix of benefit and hassle. Passengers often remark “wow that screen is so big!” Some first-time passengers knew the Tesla was a cool electric car, but didn’t know it had the big screen until they got into it. When I show that the screen is touch-enabled and can look around neighborhoods and other destinations, and discuss how I will drive around with the passengers, the utility of it becomes self-evident. More than a few have remarked that the existence of that screen isn’t enabled by the fact that the Tesla is a BEV - other brands including ICE cars could have it, and there’s no real reason to not do it. (I can only agree.) Uber+Lyft both offer navigation on your cellphone via the app. However I prefer to use the Tesla’s screen, and this requires a modicum of typing the address in. The route-plotting phase can take quite a while, though I concede it is a lot faster on LTE than it would have been on the old 3G data system that my car initially had. But it appears to take longer if there are more addresses in the car’s memory. Since I can do up to 20 rides a day there can be a lot of addresses entered into the system. I take the time to clear it out once in a while, and the route-plotting system speeds up. Tesla’s navigation route planning leaves a LOT to be desired. There are certain intersections that the car simply has the wrong idea about and will happily route me all around the place in some sort of long-way-round behavior, which is bad for uber work as it costs the rider and me both extra time – and costs the rider money. I plan to follow up this post with some photos and videos of examples. I wish there was a way to update the map myself to fix these issues, that are obviously bugs, there’s no other way to describe it. Following on from this last point, anyone who lives in Austin and drives around downtown can tell you that there are dozens of individual places that have been coned off or closed due to a) one-day events or b) multi-week construction situations. Tesla’s map knows nothing about any of these, and will happily route me into the middle of a road surfacing, city marathon or Martin Luther King Day parade – multiple times in the same day without ever learning about the problem first time around. Partly this can be fixed with “Waze” and I understand there is some potential for some of that information to be integrated into the Tesla navigation system. But short term closures or bugs in the system? No way to work around those. Some of the other behavior of the Navigation system is annoying and unproductive, even downright problematic, for uber driving. I need to see the route at any time – even if I only want to glance at the map screen for a tenth of a second while watching what else is transpiring on the road, and while approaching critical intersections. There is a weird behavior where the blue line of the route will disappear for multiple seconds at a time! This often occurs towards the end of the journey when the destination is quite close! Sometimes the map auto-zooms itself, especially during Journey Mode, which is where I leave it for riders to see where we're going. One of the guaranteed results of this is that the road names disappear. Terrible! Please rework Navigation to minimise the amount of time that road names and the navigation route disappear while you're trying to use it. The checkered flag represents the destination. Often though, the blue line does not extend all the way to it; the line gives up 1-2 hundred yards away down the street! This may seem minor, but when you are driving you need it to be right. One annoying thing about the Navigation system is what occurs when you are parked, you input a new destination, and the Navigation map appears on the left side of your dash display. For some reason, the car does not know which way it is pointing, and it takes a little while to figure it out once you have started moving. 50% of the time it is wrong and you need to drive in the other direction. This becomes quite inelegant, when your riders are telling you you’re going the wrong way! Can’t the car maintain a clue about the compass direction it is facing? Even by keeping track of the last direction it was moving in, prior to parking and switch-off. The Navigation system doesn’t keep up with you when you go around a turn. It doesn’t turn the map until the car has completed the turn and is now heading in a new direction. It should be able to rotate the map as you turn – looking at the angle of the steering wheel, and the rotation of the car’s wheels. There are all sorts of things about the car that impress riders, I won’t get into all of it, but one random example is the TuneIn radio station feature that can play radio stations from around the world. When a Hungarian rider who has been living in Austin 6 years gets into the car, they are amazed when I am able to play the Hungarian radio stations they grew up listening to as kids – live. I can recall showing this to riders from Benin, Japan and Brazil. Riders arriving in Austin for the Austin City Limits Music Festival almost uniformly want loud music playing as I take them into town from the airport, and the voice command to start Slacker playing specific artists or songs was often a shock. Finally (for now) – I'm sure I have sold at least one Tesla car via my efforts driving riders around. There are many folks who said they would head over for a test drive as soon as they were able to, or were going to talk to their spouse ASAP about considering the car. (I have repeated some of the same points so many times I almost slur them together like an air stewardess relaying safety instructions at the beginning of a flight: made in America, no gasoline tanks in the car, no harmful emissions, good for the environment, they also make an SUV, they’re revealing a mid-priced car soon, 260 miles on a charge, 4 and a quarter hours to charge at my house, charges at any power outlet, Tesla is installing chargers all around the country that are free to use and take an hour or less, and so on!) The tragic thing for me is that there is no way to track my success! It may take someone 4 months to buy a car, but they definitely made their initial mind up to do it after my uber ride. So I don’t get any kickbacks during the Referral Programs. LOL – no matter… I enjoy promoting the Tesla brand and emissions-free driving in general.