Uber doesn’t normally publicise how much it expects drivers to earn, instead vaguely promising “great money” online to anyone thinking about signing up.
Now the company’s UK head of public policy, Andrew Byrne, has revealed that the company has created three “cost profiles” on drivers.
Speaking to MPs during a parliamentary select committee enquiry on the gig economy on Wednesday, Byrne said there were outright car owners, those who have opted into car financing schemes, and those who rent their vehicles.
As a car owner, you’re likely to earn the most as an Uber driver, he said. As a renter, Uber thinks you’ll earn the least.
This is how much Uber thinks those drivers “typically” earn per hour:
- Car owners: £9.50
- Owner financers: £9
- Renter: £8
This is how much drivers earn after Uber takes its cut, Byrne said, and after costs are deducted. Uber’s commission can be as high as 25%, depending on how long the driver has been on the platform and where they are, according to anecdotal evidence from drivers. And costs might include monthly vehicle repayments, for example.
“Our estimates are conservative,” Byrne said. “For an owner, we’re [calculating] the whole cost of someone buying a Toyota Prius, which is a relatively expensive car, more expensive than you would necessarily need to have, and taking on the entire cost of that over 150,000 miles. Those costs are also based on 47 weeks a year.”
A new Toyota Prius costs, according to the Toyota site, around £24,000 a year. A Prius driver would only be permitted to pick up passengers using UberX, Uber’s cheapest tier.
Byrne didn’t offer calculations for a driver who owns or rents a more expensive car and operates on one of Uber’s higher fare tiers, like UberLUX or UberEXEC.
Drivers on UberLUX must drive an Audi, Bentley, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Land Rover, or BMW, according to Uber’s internal documentation. While their fares can be higher, their costs are also considerably higher. One Glasgow-based UberEXEC driver, David Dunn, complained in an earlier committee hearing that he had spent £37,000 on a Mercedes, but wasn’t breaking even. Others have complained they don’t make minimum wage after costs.
MPs asked Byrne whether he could guarantee that all drivers took home the minimum wage. He declined, but said Uber had introduced an advisory service for drivers who felt they weren’t making enough.
He also revealed that three-quarters of drivers rely on Uber as their sole income. A quarter drive for 40 hours or more per week, which MPs said made them effectively full-time employees.
Conservative MP Heidi Allen said: “These people are not getting sick, maternity, holiday, everything.
“When are you going to start paying people properly, when they on a regular basis are doing something approaching full time?”
Here are Uber’s vehicle requirements in full: