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Driving the Model S for Uber + Lyft

Discussion in 'Model S' started by MartinAustin, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    #1 MartinAustin, Feb 25, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
    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.
     
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  2. alexdav

    alexdav Member

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    I've been thinking about doing this with my new Tesla I picked up in December.

    What do you do when you're out of charge? Stop for the day? Or hit up a supercharger? I've read that if you use a local supercharger that Tesla might get upset at you, so was curious in that regard.

    Very information post. Thank you!
     
  3. KJD

    KJD Member

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    It looks like Uber LUX is new and only in south florida.

    How is Uber LUX different from Uber Select ?
     
  4. DMage

    DMage Member

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    I have thought about this as well in Orlando, but we have Select not Lux. What I've read is you need to take a certain number of UberX rides until you become eligible for Select. True?

    Otherwise, great write-up and detail!
     
  5. Chris TX

    Chris TX Active Member

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    My questions are, does the car's range limit how many fares you can take in a day? Is the battery a limiting factor? Do you ever pop down to the San Marcus Supercharger to keep going?
     
  6. Fanatic1

    Fanatic1 Member

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    Wonderful post. Careful everyone... Read your warranty and extended warranty rules very carefully. I think I read somewhere that using the vehicle as a taxi service, such as Uber or Lyft, may invalidate these warranties the last time I looked. Double check...
     
  7. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    #7 MartinAustin, Feb 25, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
    Great questions -

    uberLUX pays me $3.75 per mile during rides. uberLUX pays $5.00 per ride, and $0.50 per minute during the ride.
    uberSelect pays me $2.75 per mile during rides. uberLUX pays $3.00 per ride, and $0.40 per minute during the ride.
    uberX pays me $1.00 per mile during rides. uberLUX pays $1.00 per ride, and $0.12 per minute during the ride.

    (don't quote me on the uberX rates... I can't quite remember exactly)

    There is another category called uberLX which brings you a vehicle with 5 or more passenger seats. (all with seatbelts, that's important). I do not know the rates for that. Toyota Highlander, Tesla Model X etc. would qualify.

    When I'm out of charge - or more exactly, when I get down to about 50 miles of charge, I head home and rest! You would do the same :)
    You don't find out where the destination is until you have already accepted the ride request and driven over to where the rider is. I don't want to be out and about available for rides with only 15 miles of charge, and then someone wants to go 30 miles. On one occasion I was so drained of battery that I had to stop at the local Tesla showroom (at The Domain) to get a charge-up. The nearest Supercharger is 30 miles out of town in San Marcos... I wouldn't want to do a 60-mile round trip to get a full charge (minus the 30 miles required to get home).

    Tesla's Service Center staff all know that I do uber driving. They have never objected, in fact, they're happy about it... you'd think they would point out warranty issues if there were any. They continued to do warranty work without objection.

     
  8. spentan

    spentan Active Member

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    I run a limo service based in San Diego but we service all of SoCal.

    I have two CPO P85s in the fleet, that are completely under warranty, and have no exclusions for commercial use.

    We do Uber Black and Select in the off times, but our main bread and butter is our clients.

    We have Lux in LA. DO NOT COUNT ON LUX BEING PROFITABLE. I sent my guys Ubering in LA when they were up there for an LAX trip, and not one Lux trip came in, just a bunch of Selects.

    May not have been peak hour, but I don't think you should count on Lux or even Black. We're doing it mainly to get our name out there, and so that if someone wants to be guaranteed a Tesla at a certain time, they can book directly with us. Not poaching Uber clients, but we're providing repeat service to the client.
     
  9. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    The Tesla Model S qualifies for uberLUX, let's get that straight. But drivers don't automatically qualify... uber perfers to "vet" you over a 50-ride period when you begin. You are restricted to uberX during this time. You start with a perfect rating of 5.0, and you have to receive ratings averaging 4.8 or higher during the first 50 rides to qualify for higher-earning grades - uberSelect and uberLUX specifically. There is no uberBlack in Austin (and my car ain't black), and uberLUX doesn't exist in all cities - I don't pretend to understand the system fully. All I know is what goes on in Austin :)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Also I do not represent that any kind of driving for uber will cover the initial cost of buying the Tesla Model S - even a CPO car. But... my after-tax uber earnings cover my car payment, electricity and insurance, that's for sure. YMMV
     
  10. StephenM

    StephenM Active Member

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    Thanks for the very detailed post, and I found your comments spot on with my experience. I tried driving for Uber for a few weeks back in October and found the experience to be the same. I wasn't doing it for the money (I was driving UberX after all) as I was just trying to get more exposure for TΞSLA on my off time (and making a little bit of side money doesn't hurt. Maybe help to pay for the tires?). Most said first time in a Tesla, and I generally had the same reactions as you got. Some were asking if I was nuts, for using a Tesla to Uber. I had one sketchy situation, where I was on a road I didn't even know existed down a narrow unlit street next to a creepy small park at night (keep in mind I've been living on this little island for 35+ years) and when I saw no one around, I didn't hang around for the fare. I canceled after a minute and got the heck out of there, lol. Other than that, it was generally pretty fun and I got to meet a lot of interesting people.

    Unfortunately, our local government has a bill tabled where they're trying to restrict Uber/Lyft's operations.
     
  11. Maaz

    Maaz Member

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    I tried to do Uber LUX here in Los Angeles a year ago when I got my car and they said even for that my car had to be black exterior. I have a multi coat red.
     
  12. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    Oh yeah... mileage. My car had 33,000 miles on it when I started driving for Uber... that's about 1,500 miles per month - pretty high, but I enjoy driving it for pleasure.

    Right around five months later, it has about 53,000 miles on it. I'm driving about 1,000 miles a week!!!

    It dawned on me that I was reducing the trade-in value of the car. This is a sort of "cost" that should be subtracted from the uber earnings, if you're really totaling everything up. Might really take the shine off the concept.

    However, this uber driving is really a pastime thing for me, and I seek to learn what the Tesla will be like as a high-mileage car. It has a few creaks and rattles around the car that have been hard to repeat regularly and get the service staff to fix. It also has a couple of squeaks/squeals from the wheel bearings and/or brakes. Nothing continuous. Everything else about the car has performed like a champ and it accelerates the same now as it did on day one.
     
  13. vvanders

    vvanders Member

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    What's your insurance look like? I seem to remember quite a few policies have a ride sharing exclusion.
     
  14. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    We don't have a supercharger in Austin. What do you think this is, California?
     
  15. David Kent

    David Kent Member

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    Hate to burst your bubble, but hope you purchased your own commercial car insurance. Personal car carriers don't take a liking to ride services and will cancel if they find out. If you get in a wreck while on the clock, they won't cover. Uber insurance only covers when a paying passenger is in the car.
     
  16. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    Bubble = still intact. Uber covers you when you are riding to pick up the rider, and while the ride is in progress. At all other times it's you're own insurance in effect. During those times (the "all other times") you are NOT doing ridesharing... so I am not sure how/why/what your insurance company would be objecting to.
     
  17. theslimshadyist

    theslimshadyist NashVegas!

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    Why in the hell would one with a Tesla want to Uber anyways?
     
  18. Fanatic1

    Fanatic1 Member

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    7d4ef2d7158d0764a5f906944df7001a.jpg

    Just so everyone knows... Here is a section of the exclusion list from the extended warranty contract if you get it. Bullet point #7 applies here in this thread. Great to hear your service center is so helpful!
     
  19. byan1232

    byan1232 Member

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    Whoa it's not covered by teslas warranty if I do uber/lyft? Well that sucks...
     
  20. Fanatic1

    Fanatic1 Member

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    Sorry. The pic is from a portion of the extended warranty you can purchase. :( I actually haven't looked at the basic warranty of 4 years yet.
     

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