Many South Africans have a dream of owning their own business and having financial independence. Uber promises this – but there are some conditions.
One of the most important pertains to vehicle selection. According to AutoTrader CEO George Mienie, Uber has very specific requirements. “It is vitally important to meet these requirements when it comes to vehicle selection – otherwise it is impossible to become an Uber rider,” he warns.
The single most important aspect to bear in mind is vehicle age. “It must be a 2013 model year or newer. Also, a vehicle must be in good condition, the windows must work, and it must have air-conditioning,” Mienie explains.
Michelle Bell, operations manager of ABT Logistics (a company that provides support to Uber-entrepreneurs), suggests buying a 2014 model year vehicle. “As it is already October, I strongly advise anyone looking to enter the Uber market as an investor to purchase vehicles from 2014 or newer,” she advises.
The next consideration is which vehicle option to pick. UberX is the most popular, along with UberXL and Uber Van - options required when travelling with more than four people.
UberX is available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. The vehicle must be a four-door sedan, it must seat at least four passengers in addition to the driver and it must have a 1.4l engine (or a bigger capacity engine).
While salvaged or rebuilt vehicles are not approved, a used vehicle is absolutely fine – and this is what Mienie recommends. “Everyone aspires to owning a new vehicle but, in the case of an Uber-entrepreneur, this really is not necessary. Of course, you should select a vehicle with very low mileage, bearing in mind the fact that the vehicle will be driven all day every day,” he notes.
While the Toyota Corolla Quest and Volkswagen Polo Vivo are extremely popular UberX choices, Mienie says that there are several other good options too. “You need a vehicle that is reliable and fuel efficient. Parts should be readily available (you do not want your vehicle off the road) and the dealers should provide excellent service. The Ford Focus and Mazda3 are also good choices in this regard while the Honda Accord and Suzuki Ciaz are worth considering too,” he contends.
Mienie adds that Uber-entrepreneurs should also consider a sedan from the Chevrolet stable – an Aveo, Cruze, Optra or Sonic. “These vehicles often represent good value for money in the used car market. This is because Chevrolet withdrew from South Africa. However, the cars are sound and aftersales support is still available. Accordingly there is no reason why they should not warrant consideration,” he points out.
Based on ABT Logistics’ experience in the Uber market, Bell also suggests that Uber-entrepreneurs consider the Toyota Etios, Honda Brio and Nissan Almera.
UberXL and Uber Van are the vehicle categories that are appropriate to more than four passengers. The former operates in Cape Town; the latter in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
When it comes to UberXL, the vehicle must be a four-door SUV or minivan with independently opening doors. It must seat at least six passengers in addition to the driver. Full-sized vans or trucks are prohibited. Bell recommends the Honda Mobilio and Toyota Avanza.
Uber Van vehicles must have four independently opening doors and they must seat at least seven passengers in addition to the driver. Full-sized vans or trucks are once again prohibited. “The five best options in this sector are the Volkswagen Kombi, Hyundai H-1, Mercedes-Benz Viano or Vito and Opel Vivaro. These are all quality vehicles and the dealer support is outstanding,” Mienie.
He says Uber-entrepreneurs will probably get the best deal on a used Hyundai H-1. “I say this because they are plentiful” he concludes.