Hitching a ride to the airport. Securing a designated driver for the holiday party. Getting from one meeting to the next while you’re at that business conference in Chicago.
The ways in which people use Uber are quite varied. But perhaps as equally as diverse is the auto industry’s involvement with the car-hire service.
Everyone from disruptors and start-ups to the more traditional wings of the business are getting in on the action.
In fact, Uber has had a Vehicle Solutions Program since early 2014, according to the company. An Uber spokesperson said in an email message that drivers can use that program to tap into discounts from automakers, including Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.
A Kia Motors America spokesperson said the automaker is offering a $1,000 incentive for Uber drivers on eight vehicles from the 2015 model year and $500 on the 2016 model-year variety of the same vehicles, provided they meet certain stipulations.
Cox Automotive’s Flexdrive platform has partnered with Uber to provide drivers in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas and Nashville weekly rentals. And earlier this month, the Uber spokesperson said, the company launched a similar pilot with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Denver.
On the lending side, Uber has traditional auto financing partnerships, as well.
Within the disruptive technology realm, Uber has gained some traction among the auto players, too.
For instance, online marketplace Shift launched a partnership with Uber in the Los Angeles area on Dec. 9 that it says can help generate inventory for the online retailer and business for Uber, as well.
According to Shift, consumers who sell their cars through its online platform this month will get a $250 Uber credit upon spending $1,000 with Uber next year.
The offer is available to the first 50 customers and is offered in Southern California.
“Uber has a huge footprint in the car industry right now. They’ve made waves by changing the way many people approach travel and car ownership,” Shift founder and chief executive officer George Arison said in an emailed statement to Auto Remarketing.
“While we believe that most Americans still enjoy and want to own a car, we recognize that in certain situations where Uber is really convenient. Uber’s large network provides a great opportunity to reach potential customers and raise awareness for our business,” he added.
A similar platform, Beepi, was launching a program this week where a consumers can earn $350 in Uber credit for selling their car to Beepi and spending $1,000 with Uber next year, according to a Beepi spokesperson. That particular deal was being offered in 14 cities.
Where’s the potential?
Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for KBB.com, published a piece on Kelley Blue Book’s website with some car-buying tips for folks who are considering becoming drivers for car-hire services like Uber and Lyft.
But what about the people selling those cars to would-be Uber drivers?
Auto Remarketing talked with DeLorenzo by phone about these drivers being a potential market, and he certainly sees the opportunity for the auto industry.
And as the examples above and others illustrate, some are already taking advantage.
One option for the business, among others, could be to go the certified pre-owned route.
So, “some enterprising dealers who are thinking ahead” may look at the Uber driver as a potential audience for CPO, DeLorenzo said.
And for drivers looking to get into driving for a service like Uber, using a rental program could be a good way to see if they like the car before going feet first into ownership, DeLorenzo said.
But he said the Uber driver is better off owning than leasing, considering the mileage restrictions that are built into a lease — and if you’re an Uber driver, you never know how much you may end up driving in a year.