How Many Uber and Lyft Drivers Will Lose Their Jobs? All of Them

Mish

Uber will buy 24,000 autonymous Volvo cars in 2019-2021. Nearly every driving job will vanish, faster than most think.

Bloomberg reports Uber Expands Driverless-Car Push With Deal for 24,000 Volvos.

Uber Technologies Inc. agreed to buy 24,000 sport utility vehicles from Volvo Cars to form a fleet of driverless autos, a signal that the company remains committed to autonomous cars under newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi.Uber’s order steps up efforts to replace human drivers, the biggest cost in its on-demand taxi service. The autonomous fleet is small compared with the more than 2 million people who drive for Uber but reflects dedication to the company’s strategy of developing self-driving cars.“This new agreement puts us on a path toward mass-produced, self-driving vehicles at scale,” Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of auto alliances, told Bloomberg News. “The more people working on the problem, we’ll get there faster and with better, safer, more reliable systems.”For carmakers, news of Uber buying vehicles at a commercial level means potential new sales, but also looming disruption to a business model that sees autos largely sold to private owners.Lyft Inc., the main ride-hailing alternative in the U.S., has said it’s also building driverless cars but has mainly focused on partnerships. Among those that have agreed to test autonomous vehicles on Lyft’s platform are Delphi Automotive Plc’s NuTonomy, Ford Motor Co., Jaguar Land Rover and Waymo.

How Many Drivers?

Does Uber really have 2 million drivers?

Ride Share Guy disputes the numbers in How Many Uber Drivers Are There?

It seems like there are more rideshare drivers than ever on the roads these days, so it’s a question many of us wonder – how many Uber and Lyft drivers are out there?2-3 million drivers seems a little high, since we know that a large percentage of drivers quit Uber every year, or decide to drive for only Lyft. We’ve covered it here on RSG before and Uber themselves have told us that about half of all drivers quit after just one year.It’s more likely Uber has less than 1.3 million drivers in the US, since one quarter to one half quit after one year. However, this could still mean Uber has nearly 1 million if not one million drivers in the United States.In early 2017, Lyft started floating that they had 700,000 drivers on the platform, which seems a bit high. But since our survey has shown that ⅔ of all drivers work for both Uber and Lyft it could be that a lot of those Lyft drivers are technically ‘active’ with Lyft but they get a majority of their rides with Uber.Not every Lyft driver drives for Uber, and not every Uber driver drives for Lyft – but over half of drivers do drive for both. Combined, there are likely 400,000 – 600,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in the US, and that number may be closer to 1 million.

Number of Taxi and Limo Drivers

The BLS Occupational Outlook says there were about 305,100 Taxi Drivers, Ride-Hailing Drivers, and Chauffeurs in 2016.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

The BLS Occupational Outlook says that in 2016, there were 1,871,700 Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers in 2016.

Total Number of Truck Drivers?

All Trucking says there are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States according to estimates by the American Trucking Association.

"The total number of people employed in the industry, including those in positions that do not entail driving, exceeds 8.7 million. About one of every 15 workers in the country is employed in the trucking business, according to the ATA. These figures indicate that trucking is an exceptionally stable industry that is likely to continue generating jobs in the coming years."

Readers know I dispute that last sentence strongly.

When Will Driving Jobs Vanish?

Long-haul, big-rig trucking jobs will vanish first, within 1-2 years after self-driving trucks are allowed on the highways. 2021-2022 is a conservative date range, and it may happen sooner.

Limo, taxi, Uber, and Lyft will take a bit longer. I am still looking at 2022-2024 before most of these jobs start to vanish in size.

The rollout will not be as fast as with trucks, but it will still be faster than most think, likely even me. At the current pace of technological advancement, 2022 is a long way away.

Looking ahead, the total number of driving job likely to vanish by 2025 approaches 5 million.

Avis, Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Dollar Gone

Avis, Hertz and all the car rental businesses will either be out of business or out of business as we know it today. Instead, the car rental companies will compete with Waymo, Uber, Lyft, and perhaps even the auto manufacturers.

Insurance

Self-driving vehicles will reduce accidents. The insurance business will change dramatically, perhaps even vanish by the end of the next decade.

Much depends on how Congress handles liability issues for self-driving cars.

Major Disruption

Self-driving vehicles will be the biggest economic disruption since the internet.

Car ownership itself will come into question, especially in major cities, in a 2024 timeframe if not sooner.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (34)
No. 1-34
shamrock
shamrock

UBER is spending $1B on the cars PLUS the cost of the sensors and automation. I guess they have high confidence that it will work. What could go wrong?

El_Tedo
El_Tedo

Uber will be doing these drivers a favor. Uber-ing isn't job, it is the financialization of your car. These drivers are paid poorly. When the accelerated depreciation of their vehicles is factored in - which no Uber/Lyft driver I have met has taken into account - they are practically driving for free.

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock

Editor

Uber may not even survive but I expect they will. Regardless huge competition from Waymo and Lyft. Likely coming from the car manufacturers themselves. Think about that. Once they start producing these cars, why let Uber have the profit?

Stuki
Stuki

Does Uber have any profit?

shamrock
shamrock

Why let Uber have the profit? Why let Facebook or Google have all the profit? Uber already has 40m monthly riders. It's expensive to build a fleet of cars and have the customer base to make it profitable.

Blacklisted
Blacklisted

"Self-driving vehicles will be the biggest economic disruption since the internet".
No, that would be Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and the new businesses that are created using these digital currencies to eliminate non value-added middlemen that only increase costs.

nic9075
nic9075

seriously, how does anyone make money from uber?? the wear and tear on the car (remember the 100,000 mile rule still applys --- the Engine & Drivetrain MAY last to over 100,000 miles BUT many of the other components (especially alternators, water pumps, fuel pumps, electrical) seem to fail between 70,000 - 100,000 miles so in essence an uber driver is really just literally driving the car into the ground (as the saying goes).. Sure you may make $1500 a week driving in NYC 60 or more hours a week but that $1500 doesn't include expenses and it certainly doesn't include health insurance..

nic9075
nic9075

'Self Driving cars' is another overhyped fad (remember Google Glass or googles project making modular smart phones')?? How much of the market do electric cars make up?? How the hell did these elite C suite types come up with this idea anyway?? Gas is RIDICULOUSLY cheap, millennials who live in the city usually DO have cars (which they are paying $500 a month for a garage parking space) which they use on the weekend, suburban soccer moms are never going to trust a "self driving car" to pick up & drop off Caitlin & Tyler at school, and then to soccer & Piano and drop them off back home. NO FREAKING WAY. and of course there is the factor of vandalism & theft if these self driving cars have to drive thru the ever shrinking bad & ungentrified sections of NYC & Boston

nic9075
nic9075

'

nic9075
nic9075

The funny thing about this video is the touching faith the people in it have in technology. }}} I do its so much better having to deal with much of the public especially these unwashed types who work in many retail stores (but with the UE rate of 4%, retailers are basically hiring homeless people off the street at $11 an hour)

SleemoG
SleemoG
KidHorn
KidHorn

I'm sure there are a ton of asterisks for the 24K vehicle purchase. I think self driving cars will become the norm at some point, but I think we're a decade away. I can't tell you how many new technologies are perpetually right around the corner. What was originally supposed to happen in 2 years ended up taking 10. OLED TVs are the most recent example off the top of my head. 15 years ago Sony shows a working prototype. They'll be mass printing them in a couple of years. And then LG makes it a reality a decade later.

JonSellers
JonSellers

There's a difference between creating a cool new technology and actually creating a profitable market for it. I think we will actually see self-driving cars within a decade that can actually attempt to go anywhere and will be as safe as humans. But that doesn't mean that there is a big enough market for them at a price point that makes them profitable to produce relative to other potential investments. I'd love to put solar cells on my roof, feed a battery, and never have to pay an electric bill again. That's pretty old technology and it still would be crazy for me to put money there as the ROI is ten years out. Lot's can change in 10 years. I mark AVs as "wake me up when some car company invests a billion dollars in a plant to produce a million a year."

whirlaway
whirlaway

Will there be any weapons/deterrent systems to prevent people from removing the wheels of the cars at traffic lights? What are they? And what will be the cost of adding them? The same thing with trucks. How do you prevent desperate people from waylaying trucks carrying food etc.. on highways and looting them? Or do you think all the unemployed and poor people will curl up and die??!!

KidHorn
KidHorn

whirlaway,

KidHorn
KidHorn

The same deterrents to people not stealing wheels when cars are parked. I'm sure the cars/trucks will be fitted with cameras and the police will be notified as a crime is being committed.

Brother
Brother

The trucking industry has a lot of LTL loads and the driver gets it done. A pilotless truck will still need a rider to unload. Driverless could only be used in a dock to dock situation.

bradw2k
bradw2k

Big technology shifts tend to be bigger than anyone foresaw, but arrive more slowly than the fans expected or wanted. My guess is fully autonomous robot cars will play out the same way ... in seven years I'll still be driving a Toyota, and there will still be jobs for drivers, but in 25 years no one (in rich countries) will be driving anything, ever.

jivefive99
jivefive99

As a person who has watched my friend be a driver for Pizza Hut, Uber and Lyft, I dont think we are talking about the right thing. There is no shortage of naive and desperate people who are willing to work for nothing (tho getting paid immediately) driving and delivering (meager wages minus $500 for new tires minus $500 for new brakes minus $50 for lots of oil changes minus hundreds of dollars for repairs minus saving up for the next car), but these kinds of companies are not gonna save anything when vehicle repairs and maintenance are now on THEIR balance sheet. Heck, driverless cars may cost them MORE. Presently you can pay a driver nothing and have them pay for the car maintenance.

El_Tedo
El_Tedo

You're right, jive-5. Why make the huge capital expenditure when you're getting your wage-slaves to provide it for you for free. However, Uber has been a law-suit magnet and I don't know anyone who has continued to Uber for any extended time. The free labor & equipment train is not going to last forever, especially if the Labor Department and/or numerous state agencies begin investigating them.

El_Tedo
El_Tedo

This is a good video on Uber Math, although the sales tax example is high and not all states charge it. https://youtu.be/fgQPj90OrQE

SleemoG
SleemoG

You failed to prove your point Grumblenose. Luddites were still wrong in 1811, whatever the reason. More to the point, Luddites are always wrong by definition. So, "Luddites -- wrong as fuck since the beginning of time."

whirlaway
whirlaway

"The same deterrents to people not stealing wheels when cars are parked."

What you don't understand is that when people have nothing left to lose, they lose it. They don't care about the damn cameras! So, the car has to be equipped with weapons.

At some point, we have to ask ourselves, "To what end?" Hopefully, we will before it is too late. Or else we will be living in a world not worth living in.

chrisinpg
chrisinpg

Anyone who thinks that the IRS rate is an accurate reflection of the actual cost to operate the type of vehicle that an Uber driver drives, is seriously misinformed. The IRS rate is quite a bit higher than the cost to operate a vehicle. That does not, however, mean that Uber is not ripping off its drivers. I think that the comparison to a Payday loan operation is apt.

Metronome
Metronome

Uber is a cash burning company that's yet to see any profit. Human drivers were a better option for that nearly bankrupt firm, simply because underneath, they were buying cars for Uber out of their own pocket. A self-driving car, no matter how much of a miracle it is, becomes a full Uber expense. All of the sudden, they have to buy and maintain their own fleet and can't offset the blame on the driver if the need arises. They become just another taxi company, only billions in the red from the get go.

BubbaDump
BubbaDump

So once these guys go commercial the cost on commercial insurance is a major factor, and will still need to be there, although it might be 75% cheaper, but it will be at least 10 to 15 years before insurance drops down to that point. on average it's around $350 per car per month.

Another cost factor will be tickets these cars get, 2/3 of City traffic ticket are rideshare drivers, so unless all City roads are only open to rideshare, buses, and taxis this is another cost to factor in.

Another issue is, no matter who the manufacturer of these self driving cars are they will have a visual glitch every 100k miles, a commercial car will hit this number every year and a half or sooner making an annual safety issue that could be a major question mark on safety, and should only be rolled publicly at least a decade from now. The visual sensors are not there yet, and my assumption is that these autonomous companies after withholding accidents that aren't publicly known. So unless safety is not a concern to the public, 2024 is very premature.

If any of the Volvo cars have a recall the whole fleet will be shut down, so are they going to just let drivers back on? I'm still surprised there is not a driver owned app to shut these guys out, it should be your self driving car making money, not these companies with no accountability.

BubbaDump
BubbaDump

I also wanted to mention that the 24k Volvo cars are the worst possible model when it comes to profit/loss ratio for a fleet, showing again their lack of efficiency be on that management. The Volvo xc90 get only 22 mpg. They will make close to 2k a month when all factors mentioned earlier are calculated.

wootendw
wootendw

This article is six days old so no one is likely to see this comment, but I have decided self-driving cars are not for me if this story in ZH is true - that self-driving cars make life and death decisions in the interests of the 'greater good of all' (public interest, national interest, common good, etc).

wootendw
wootendw

I would expect a self-driving vehicle, in which I am riding, to put my life above others.

xil
xil

@wootendw, i see your comment and my first thought is the linked article is blatant sensationalism

wootendw
wootendw

@xil That depends on what's important to you. Many of the worst government wrongdoings are justified on the basis of national interest, public interest, greater good of all, etc. Examples include military conscription, eminent domain and, in the cases of Stalin and Mao, mass murder.

xil
xil

@wootendw, i have to admit i didn't read the article on zh but the article's headline (to me) screams sensationalism -- something zh has been accused of doing by one of their former writers. that said, i do have serious reservations about AVs in regards to giving up complete control of my mobility to others...

james85306
james85306

As a UBER driver I welcome UBER to buy 24,000 vehicles. That is a one billion dollar investment. Then they need the insurance, and maintenance costs. Then they need how many dealers to service the cars? I assume they will be gas powered but all the self serve gas stations are not equipped for driver less cars....small issue I guess. I'm LOSING money at 0.72 cents a mile between gas, maintenance, tickets, windshield, tires etc. It is really emergency cash. The driver loss is more like 97% a year. Then, I ask all my riders if they would take a driver less car and the VAST majority say NO....they want to be able to tell the driver of dangers, best routes, etc. Acceptance isn't automatic. Now, UBER just lost 1.5 billion dollars in the last quarter and lost 3 investors to my knowledge. Softbank offered a 1/3 less than the current valuation and that deal is desperately needed to shore up a company that has NO CLUE how to run the company profitably. GOOD LUCK UBER. GOOD LUCK MISH, eventually you'll be right but not anywhere near as soon as you think.


Global Economics

FEATURED
COMMUNITY