Working as an Uber Driver: Costs and Revenues

Uber, an app-based on-demand transportation provider from San Francisco, is a controversial yet seemingly popular phenomenon.

Started from its two founders’ vision to get an instant access to transportation service in the palm of their hand, Uber allows anyone who owns a car to become a private driver and pick up passengers just like a taxi driver.

Due to its aggressive expansion within the last seven years, the service is now available in more than 66 countries and 300 cities around the world. The service became available in Jakarta about two years ago, then spread to other big cities like Bandung, Denpasar and Surabaya.

With the increasing demand from customers, Uber is getting even more aggressive in recruiting new individuals to become their partners – commonly known as Uber drivers. So, how profitable is it to work as an Uber driver?

Potential Income for an Uber Driver

From students, former motorcycle taxi riders, entrepreneurs, to sports trainers, Uber drivers come from various educational and social backgrounds.

Iwan Zainuri is among those who decide to become a full-time Uber driver after finding out that the work rhythm is convenient. Iwan, who is in his 30s, had been working as an online motorcycle taxi rider for a year when he heard about Uber. He made a decision to buy a unit of Daihatsu Ayla LCGC with installments and became an Uber driver.

“I couldn’t stand the wind when riding a motorcycle. I like working with Uber because it is less exhausting and the customers also come from more select groups,” he says.

Despite only driving for Uber for about a week, Iwan has already been navigating the road very smoothly using a GPS device. According to him, he can get around 7-8 passengers every day.

Similar to Iwan, Ferry is also an Uber driver who used to work for an app-based motorcycle taxi company. Today, he drives a Toyota Rush SUV given by his parents to serve Uber passengers.

“I can get around Rp 6 million to Rp 7 million a month and that is including fuel and car maintenance cost. However, this also depends on whether we take the coming orders,” he explains.

Fandy, 27, an Uber driver who only works part-time for the company says he can take home Rp 200,000 a day or around Rp 6 million a month. Today, he and his sibling own a car rental service cooperating with Uber, so that their cars can be rented by other Uber drivers who did not own a vehicle.

A personal driver in Jakarta earns around Rp 4 million-Rp 5 million a month, with 40-hour workweek just like any employees in general – sometimes they are also called to work overtime on weekends. However, one only needs to have the right driver’s license, good reference, and be knowledgeable about the road to be able to start working as a personal driver.

“One of the most common problems (faced by those wanting to drive Uber in Indonesia) is that people don’t own a car,” says Uber International Launcher, Alan Jiang, at an event in Jakarta.

[Read: How Much Does Car Maintenance Cost?]

The Costs of Being an Uber Driver

Since Uber drivers operate using personal cars, we can say the “starting capital” one should have to be able to join this black-plate transportation company is a car.

“When registering with Uber, they will check the condition of our car,” says Iwan.

In general, a car must be 10 years old or newer to qualify for any Uber service. Your car type will determine if you belong to the “UberX” or “UberBLACK” category. For example, Toyota Avanza, Daihatsu Ayla and Honda Jazz will be listed under UberX category, while Honda CRV, Nissan Juke and sedan will be placed in UberBLACK listing. To put it simply, UberX charges 37% lower rate compared to regular cabs, while UberBLACK charges premium rates, which is around 15% more expensive than regular cabs.

[Quiz: Are You Ready to Buy a Car?]

If you do not own a car, renting one from car rental companies that have partnered with Uber can be an alternative. However, there will be a profit sharing between you and the rental company, where a higher percentage of profit would go to that company – because they are the one getting the license from Uber and paying for the car maintenance.

Look at Adi, who rents a car from his brother with profit sharing ratio of 40:60. If he makes Rp 6 million within a month, he would only get to take away Rp 2.4 million.

Uber also offers installment program for smartphone purchases. In the future, it is even possible that the company would offer car installment programs for Uber drivers in Indonesia.

Just like most taxi drivers, Uber drivers take care of their own fuel cost, which varies from Rp 2 million to Rp 3 million. Other than that, any maintenance, car repair and tax fees are also the driver’s responsibility. As quoted from Alan, Uber partners are responsible complying with their tax payment.

In special cases such as accidents or problems with the authorities, Uber has adequate insurance to cover part or all loss occurred.

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