Own A Tesla Model S? Drive For Uber And Make 70 Cents Per Mile


SEP 25 2015 BY JAY COLE 39

Ever wondered how profitable it would be to own an electric car and also drive for Uber?

Not Your Typical Uber-Utillized Vehicle

Not Your Typical Uber-Utillized Vehicle

Probably not.

But Alan Zhang, who owns a shipping company in California – and also a Tesla Model S, wanted learn more about how Uber works from the inside.

Mr. Zhang drives for both UberX (the basic car service), and UberPlus (luxury car service) and tells MarketWatch of his conclusions when it comes to profitability.

“So far, Zhang said he’s completed 102 trips and made $1,022.59, before Uber took its cut and without accounting for his own expenses. After the Uber fee — which can range from 20% to 28% depending on the city and when the driver signed up — Zhang calculates that he has collected 76 cents per mile. This is cut down to 70 cents when factoring in his Tesla’s cost of six cents per mile to drive.”

Of course he could have made the whole 76 cents, if he risked a terse email from Tesla and just used Supercharging to reset his miles, but that hardly seems worth it.

In fact, its probably not worth your time at all to be an Uber driver if your ride is a Tesla Model S.  The best we can figure out, Mr. Zhang probably made about $15/hour driving appreciative California residents around.

MarketWatch, hat tip to ffbj!

Categories: Tesla

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39 Comments on "Own A Tesla Model S? Drive For Uber And Make 70 Cents Per Mile"

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What about tips? How do they figure in?

Still probably not a money maker to buy a brand new Tesla just to use it for Uber.

(I never tip Uber)

Does your Uber driver expect a tip?


– The official response: “With Uber there is no need to tip. Once you arrive at your destination, your fare is automatically charged to your credit card on file, making for a cashless and seamless experience.”

kdawg — Uber is being sued over that. “A federal judge says Uber, the thriving San Francisco-based shared ride company, can be sued by its drivers for allegedly deceiving customers by telling them tips are included in their fares.” http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Uber-drivers-suit-over-tips-clears-hurdle-5044858.php What is your customer rating with Uber? (customers get rated by drivers, just like drivers get rated by customers.) I’ll bet you have a low customer rating if you never tip. Here is an example of how one Uber driver rates customers: ” I work in the New Brunswick, NJ area. Here is how I rate customers. 5 Stars for a customer that tips. 4 Stars is this the max for customers that do not tip. 3 Stars if I take a client to the airport and help with 3 heavy bags and the customer doesn’t tip. 3 Stars for a customer that puts in the wrong pick-up address unless he tips. I’ve never rated a customer below 3 yet. Would have to be pretty bad. I did see a customer rated 1 star, i didn’t accept that ride. Also, I have a sign on back of seat that says “TIPS appreciated”. Clients think that the tip is included in… Read more »

Hm, never used Uber. But why would anyone care how a driver they have hired “rates” them?

If you have a very low rating, many Uber drivers will refuse to pick you up for a ride.

I hardly use Uber, but the beauty of it, is that it’s a cashless system. If I have to start messing around with tips, I’ll just grab a cab. If necessary, Uber should just tack more onto the fare and give it to the drivers, but from what I read, they are already paid more than taxi drivers.

Every industry that relies on tips should do that. It’s an antiquated system, leftover from the pre-labor revolution days that passes the cost of labor from the employer to the consumer, and puts the employee at risk while at the same time making an arbitrary and subjective sense of entitlement and disappointment for all. Except that employer who is paying their employee sub min wage.

I don’t get the idea of automatically adding a tip. So you basically just increase the price? There is no difference between tip money and fare money, it looks exactly the same and it goes to the same place. Such behavior is fraudulent marketing! If a service cost $20 then that is the deal, you can’t then demand another $5 “tip”. If so you should have just asked for $25 to begin with. This tipping BS needs to go.

Depreciation in the value of the car is by far the biggest expense of owning an expensive car like the Tesla. It would appear that Alan only considered the cost of fuel(electricity).

When you factor in depreciation there is no profit at all.

Depreciation only matters if you plan to sell the car. Maybe he plans on running it into the ground.

The car value depreciates regardless whether you calculate the depreciation or ignore it.

Also if you operate a Tesla there is a per mile cost of wear and tear, tires, maintenance, insurance etc.

That’s what Uber DEPENDS on, drivers not knowing the expense of depreciation and what about insurance, this can either increase your insurance expense of give them grounds to Drop You.

I would assume they are using the car for their personal use too, so insurance is a wash. The maintenance cost on an EV isn’t very much, but if you want to count a few cents for that fine.

Insurance of unlicensed taxis (“ride sharing” is a silly euphemism) isn’t that simple, and is now a huge issue with Uber & similar companies. Many if not most insurance policies explicitly exclude coverage for any commercial use. When Uber found this out, they started providing coverage for the time a customer is in the vehicle.

However, they still don’t cover transit times from/to the pickup/dropoff customer, and some insurance companies consider thst commercial use as well. Lawsuits are in progress, snd currently, an Uber driver in many locales needs to take out extra insurance to make sure s/he is covered all the time.

That’s probably a good idea for Uber. If their drivers need extra insurance, Uber should provide it.

Of course they should, but the business model is to get the suckers to work for slave wages.

Depreciation matters when some drunken *-hole crashes into your nice high mileage, but well maintained car that you planned on keeping until the wheels fell off.

Drunken *-hole’s insurance company will depreciate the heck out of your car when they total it and write you a tiny check.

Do I sound bitter? grrrrrrrrrr…..

kdawg said:

“Depreciation only matters if you plan to sell the car. Maybe he plans on running it into the ground.”

Okay, then, I’ll reword that for you, kdawg:

Wear-and-tear on the car is by far the biggest expense of owning an expensive car like the Tesla Model S. It would appear that Alan only considered the cost of fuel (electricity).

When you factor in wear-and-tear, how much faster driving others around for hours a day will wear out your car, and how much more it will cost for maintenance once the car is past its 50,000 mile warranty*, there is no profit at all.

*125,000 mile powertrain warranty

Yes, there’ll be some wear/tear, I just don’t like it when people get so hung up on *DEPRECIATION*. You could have a $5 million dollar Picasso painting in your living room, but if no one will pay you more than 3 dollars for it, guess what it’s worth? Point is, if you buy/keep your cars for yourself, and use them how you like to use them, because.. enjoyment, the whole depreciation argument is pointless.

I don’t think you understand, if we’re talking about getting paid to joy-ride in your Tesla for say an additional 1,000 miles a year, you’re right.

If you’re talking about putting 20,000 miles a year on your car and getting paid nearly minimum wage:
1) You probably have better use for your time if you can afford a Tesla.
2) That wear and tear is has a significant effect on the life of the car, components wear out. Roads are not glassy smooth. Your car will be worth less for a reason. You will have more maintenance issues sooner, and more wear issues over a shorter time period.

And your vehicle will be worth less, and won’t last as long.

I think you are overemphasizing the wear.

Not driving your car to keep the resale value high is like not plowing your girl to keep it fresh for the next guy.

Except, low mileage classic cars are actually valued at much higher prices then high mileage classic cars.

Where do you live? Flat road Nebraska?

New Jersey buddy. I’ve got a banged up, old Impreza with 236k; still munching Civics. Lolz

I’ve actually considered this with my Volt. Just an hour here, an hour there operating in EV mode. I’m all set up to drive, just a matter of if I want to.

There’s a young dude called Evan in Nashville TN (I think), who posts to the Seattle Leaf FB page. He uses a 2011 Leaf for driving Lyft, and seems to immensely enjoy it. Maybe he’s a student working part-time, I’m not sure.

I think it has to be in your blood. I wouldn’t do it, but I’m not really a people person. #engineer

Doesn’t the Tesla depreciate at close to $1/mile?

They also chew tires up at a pretty fast rate as well.

Plus, if you get extra insurance (VERY GOOD IDEA) and factor your time spend doing the runs the cost per mile goes down even further.

I drove for Lyft a few times and averaged $20-25/hr in my Tesla. Tires cost me ~$0.04/mi, and “fuel” is around $0.03/mi. If they weren’t shut down here (St Louis) I would’ve continued. Had a lot of fun doing it. Uber has now launched in St Louis, but not with the permission of the MTC, so I’m waiting a little while to see how it goes.

Tesla supposedly depreciates their loaner cars at $1/mi when re-selling them, but that doesn’t mean that’s the going rate on the used market. Long term I expect they will hold their value well. Mine is at 71k mi and still drives like new. The battery and motor warranty still have 6.5yrs on them.

This is crazy! How did you drive 71k miles in just 1.5 years? You sure are enjoying Tesla’s nice warranty package!

That’s reasonable to do. I drove 50k miles a year for 20 years. No biggie. Some taxi drivers drive that much depending on the city, though I was a courier so I would put on more miles than a typical taxi driver.

I would amend that to say reasonable if your job requires you to be on the road a lot, or you make a lot of long distance trips.

Average miles are nearer 20k miles a year, so he is high above what average drivers put on in the aforementioned time frame.

And what about the maintenance, that would be interesting to note. My guess it has been minor compared to an ice.

$0.06/miles doesn’t pay for the Tesla, insurance or his time…

So, $0.70/mile isn’t enough to pay for anything. Assume he gets enough fares to drive 30 miles every hour.. That is only $21/hr before the cost of his time, car and insurance are factored in…

Uber business model only works because more drivers are signing up than leaving Uber but nobody can make a living doing Uber only…

In NYC, Uber is making some Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods around taxi garages virtual Taxi Graveyards. The increasing number of taxis that don’t get leased out for the day are taking over precious street parking spaces. Meanwhile, the value of once million dollar taxi medallions are dropping like a stone.



Frustrated residents have even taken to vandalizing the taxis.


That is what I have been hearing too. Uber is killing the Taxi business.
The Taxi model is failing as well it should, where the hack owners, dispatchers getting kickbacks, and local governments all take a cut from the drivers, just dwindles you pay down to almost nothing.

There is value to Uber-in-a-Tesla if you are one of those Tesla super-enthusiast nutters that wants to “spread the word about EVs” and you have the time on your hands. A lot of Tesla owners are happy to spread the word… I’m surprised more aren’t doing Uber just to let people get rides and help sell more Teslas.

Only 30 cents less than the per mile cost of depreciation alone. What a deal.