Tesla cars are the best solution for Uber and Lyft drivers as ICE cars are too expensive to drive due to rising gas prices. Some drivers have already started the transition from their ICE cars to Tesla vehicles.
Although the initial cost of electric vehicles is higher than that of combustion engine vehicles, owners benefit from huge savings that become more apparent the more they drive. Electric vehicles are almost maintenance-free and the cost of electricity to charge is much lower than gas to refuel, so the benefits are clear. Bloomberg spoke to Uber driver Heidi Barnes, who shared her experience of using the Tesla Model 3 and Toyota Camry as a way to make money.
Barnes of Lancaster, California thought about changing her ICE car to a Tesla Model 3 last summer and had no idea at the time that this luxury car was not just a luxury for her, but a means of saving and earning money. She clearly realized this when, in March 2022, the price per gallon of gas exceeded $4. At that price, a full tank cost Barnes about $60 a day, and as the cost of gas continued to rise, later it cost more than $100. This significantly affected the profit from the work. “It was a huge push to get in a Tesla sooner rather than later,” she said.
Barnes rented a Tesla Model 3 for a month through Hertz, which had an agreement with Uber. The weekly rate was $344 and included insurance, basic maintenance, and unlimited miles. Even with the cost of charging the car, Barnes paid roughly $450 a week. For comparison, just refueling her Toyota Camry cost $600 a week. So in the first week of using the Tesla, Barnes' earnings covered the monthly rent.
In addition, the passengers who use her car are much more generous than those who use her services in the Camry. “They're a lot more generous,” Barnes said. “Usually I’m lucky to get $1 to $3 tips but it’s now $10 or $15, sometimes consecutively,” she continued. In total, Barnes made over $2,600 from her 25-day rental, more than double the $800 to $1,000 she typically earned driving a Camry, as confirmed by earnings screenshots she provided to Bloomberg.
Since the start of the Hertz-Uber partnership in November 2021, more than 15,000 drivers have rented Tesla vehicles, according to data from Uber. “Participation has been really compelling,” Adam Gromis, Uber’s public policy manager for sustainability, said in an interview. “Drivers are smart and they know how to maximize their take-home pay.”
Another driver, Luis Martinez, took a big risk and took out a loan to buy a Tesla car. He said the risk was worth it, as it was unwise to wait for gas prices to drop. He considered swapping his 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid for an electric car in early March in response to soaring gas prices. “I was throwing $800 at gas every month and I realized instead I could put that money towards a car I could actually own,” he said.
He originally considered the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which cost roughly $47,000, but the car cost $62,000 in dealerships and the resale market was even worse, Martinez said. That is why he chose the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, which had no absurd dealership surcharges and cost $58,000, the price set by the manufacturer. In one week, his $900 car payment is covered and he pockets about $1,000 more in take-home pay. He is still nervous as he has to repay the loan, however the ever-increasing gas prices calm him down. “There’s a lot of anxiety but, for me, the math makes sense,” said Martinez.
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