$UBER, $LYFT Drivers Switching to $TSLAs

Bloomberg/Yahoo headline: Uber, Lyft Drivers Switch to Teslas as High Gas Prices Squeeze Profit
Jackie Davalos
Tue, June 28, 2022 at 9:17 AM·6 min read


Last summer, Heidi Barnes, 34, thought about upgrading her beloved 2009 Toyota Camry, which she nicknamed “The Beast,” for a sleek Tesla Inc. Model 3 sedan. The Lancaster, California-based driver never imagined that the high-end vehicle would become less of a splurge and more like a last resort until the average price for a gallon of gas in the US surpassed $4 for the first time in March. Almost overnight, a full tank went from costing Barnes roughly $60 to a day to more than $100, making it harder to make a decent profit from ferrying passengers around Los Angeles County. “It was a huge push to get in a Tesla sooner rather than later,” Barnes said.

Barnes opted to rent a standard Tesla Model 3 for a month through Hertz, which has a deal with Uber Technologies Inc. offering drivers a weekly rate of $344 that includes insurance, basic maintenance, and unlimited miles. Even after accounting for the cost to charge the car, Barnes was paying roughly $450 a week for “the car of her dreams,” less than the nearly $600 required to fuel her Camry. In her first week, Barnes’ earnings covered the cost of the rental for the month.

Her new ride is also a hit with passengers. “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.” In total, she netted over $2,600 during her 25-day rental, more than double the $800 to $1,000 she typically made from driving the “Beast,” according to screenshots of earnings she provided to Bloomberg.