The ultimate 2020 car guide for Uber drivers in London

What are the best cars for Uber?
1000 500 Balazs Szekely

What makes the best cars for driving Uber in the UK? From the all-important fuel consumption through comfort, safety, to reliability, and even how good the car looks on the road – there’s a lot to take into consideration. Choosing the best car for Uber in London can be a challenging decision, one that you shouldn’t take rashly.

The car industry has thousands of choices for consumers which can be a blessing and a curse when trying to decide which is the best car for your Uber career.

At Splend, our flexible Uber car rental plans have helped over 15,000 people globally to earn an income with rideshare and delivery platforms such as Uber and Amazon Flex. Our experience combined with that of our members has allowed us to create this ultimate guide of what you need to consider when choosing a car for Uber.

 

What do the best Uber cars have in common?

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the best cars for Uber is the rider’s experience. But your behaviour as a driver is in fact the basis of that – chrome and leather are just the very tip of the pyramid when it comes to earning consistent five-star driver ratings and tips.

What you need first and foremost is a trusty tool that gets you through the day without hiccups and keeps as much money in your pocket as possible. Here’s what you need to look for when choosing a car for Uber driving:

1. Good fuel economy

The biggest running cost of any car is the energy required to drive it around, whether there’s a thirsty petrol engine, a modern electric drivetrain, or some sort of hybrid technology under the bonnet. Each category has its own advantages and drawbacks that make them suitable for different uses, but one thing is clear: the more you move towards full-electric, the lower your daily energy costs will be.

However, there is one very important thing to keep in mind when comparing different technologies:

Since January 2020 Transport for London only registers zero emission-capable cars for private hire use. Most petrol-hybrids don’t meet this requirement, leaving you with EVs and PHEVs if you’re thinking about a new investment.

2. Low or fixed-price servicing costs

Given you’re driving so much, you’ll need to have the car serviced two or three times each year, so affordable servicing is a must.

Korean or Japanese cars are known for their solid build quality and reasonably priced spare parts so they’re a good choice for a long-term investment. Additionally, since petrol-hybrids have been around for longer than most EVs and PHEVs, maintaining these cars is generally easier and cheaper.

Opting for a Rent to buy plan with fixed servicing costs is another way to minimise the expenses and headaches that come with routine maintenance for years to come.

How much does car maintenance cost in the UK?

This obviously depends on a lot of factors from how much you use your car to your driving style, and even pure chance, but generally speaking, the maintenance of the most popular Uber cars costs around £500-£550 per year on average, or about £10 per week.

How often are cars serviced in the UK?

Your car should ideally get a full service once a year or every 10-12,000 miles. However, if you look after the car well and always take it in for a quick check whenever something doesn’t feel right, you may get away with a more affordable basic service too.

We recommend small but frequent check-ups as it’s cheaper in the long run and less of a financial burden compared to a rare but costly general maintenance.

What is the difference between a basic car service and a full service?

A basic car service includes a routine check to diagnose any issues and taking care of the consumables that wear out or get used up most frequently as you drive the car. These include the oil and other fluids, filters, wiper blades, etc.. The seasonal tire changes are also part of the basic service routine.

A full service includes everything that’s in a basic service and a more thorough check including engine diagnosis, reconditioning the suspension, swapping the fuel filters, and more repairs depending on the car’s overall condition.

3. Strong resale value

It’s just the nature of any car: they’re depreciating assets, meaning that their value starts to drop the moment they roll out of the dealership. It’s closely linked to age and mileage, but different models depreciate at different rates regardless of how and how much you drive.

According to Autocar’s top 13 ranking, Mini models tend to have the strongest resale value on the UK market, followed by – mostly premium – Western carmakers. Unfortunately, their lineups don’t have a wide variety of hybrid and electric models at the moment, especially in the affordable family car segment that makes up the bulk of the best Uber cars in London.

However, plenty of Asian manufacturers that offer some of the most popular Uber cars are also among the slower-depreciating brands. Kia leads the pack with their cars losing less than 60% of their value on average after 34,700 miles, with Nissan hot on its heels at a hair above 63% depreciation at the same mileage. Autocar claims that a Toyota model would lose just shy of three-quarters of its value in similar conditions.

How to minimise car depreciation?

While it’s impossible to avoid, choosing a model that maintains its value well is the best way to keep depreciation at bay. Given the volume of riders getting in and out of your Uber car, it’s best to go for a car with a robust interior with good quality synthetic materials that won’t deteriorate quickly.

Regular maintenance using original or manufacturer-approved spares and keeping a detailed service record is another way to maximise your car’s resale value.

4. Plenty of space

Spacious cars are becoming an industry-standard in ridesharing. There are many cars that would otherwise be excellent in the city traffic but have little to almost no rear legroom once you push back the front seats to a comfortable setting. These might be fine for taking the kids to school in the morning, but passenger comfort should be up there with the highest-priority features when you’re choosing your car for Uber driving.

Small hatchbacks and even some larger sedans also have ridiculously small boots. Again, for the daily commute and the odd shopping trip, these are more than plenty, but Uber driving involves many trips to the airports and railway stations. It would be a shame having to decline these for lack of luggage space.

5. Affordable insurance

Uber positions itself in the UK as a transportation-tech company as opposed to private hire, so they view you as an independent contractor. This means they don’t get involved when it comes to insuring your car.

This leaves you with the responsibility of making sure you have the right cover in place. And normal car insurance will not cover you in case of an accident if you drive Uber. A private hire insurance policy is not cheap, though – it can set you back anywhere between £2,000 and a whopping £4,000 per year, depending on the age of the car, distance driven per year, as well as your driving history.

This is why you need to be extremely careful when buying your Uber car, or go for a PCO car hire option with insurance included.

What are the best cars for Uber in the UK?

Based on the first-hand experience of over 15,000 Uber drivers globally, we outlined three of the most fuel-efficient car categories and looked at some of the most popular models within each.

Model Kia Niro 2 Toyota Corolla Toyota Prius Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Nissan Leaf MG ZS EV
Category Hybrid PHEV EV
Mixed consumption (MPG/MPGe) *[1] 58.9 62.77 62.4 119 105 125
Fuel costs (/week) *[2] £64.77 £60.78 £62.13 £25.36 – £28 £28 – £32 £32.2 – £36.2
Insurance costs (/week) *[3] ~£58 ~£58 ~£58 ~£58 ~£59 ~£58
Running costs (/week) *[4] ~£27 ~£23 ~£22 ~£26 ~£26 ~£26
Boot volume (L) 427 598 457 443 435 470
Retail price (starting from) *[5] £24,105 £25,255 £24,175 £23,840 £26,845 £28,440
Resale value *[6] Y1 £11,150 £10,350 £10,950 £10,050 £13,575 £10,725
Y2 £9,050 £9,850 £10,350 £8,875 £12,475 £8,950
Y3 £8,275 £9,125 £9,700 £7,850 £11,100 £8,225
*[1] Manufacturer information – converted to MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) for PHEV and EV models using the mpgtokpl.net conversion table)
*[2] Based on an estimated fuel price of £5.54 per gallon, and driving 700 miles in a week. Charging costs are based on a mixture of at-home charging and public charging stations. We’ve used the manufacturer-provided mixed consumption figures in the calculations
*[3] Estimates courtesy of Zego, calculated for new car, 25+ years-old driver, and 32,000 miles driven per year
*[4] Estimates based on industry data, calculated for 32,000 miles driven per year
*[5] Manufacturer-recommended prices of base models as of July 2020 (VAT included)
*[6] Three-year predicted trade valuation at auction based on 36,000 miles and three services per year

 

Petrol-electric hybrid cars (PHV)

What is a petrol-electric hybrid car?

A car is considered hybrid-drive if it uses two different means of propulsion. In the case of PHVs this means a combined drivetrain with an electric motor as well as a petrol or diesel engine. Although they have a powerful electric motor, in lifestyle terms they’re the same as a conventional car: you just fill up and go, no need for an external source of electric power.

 
Hybrids generally consume less fuel and have lower CO2 emissions than a comparable car with only an internal combustion engine. Remember, though: you can no longer register a new hybrid for private hire use in London. It’s fine if you’re already driving one or you want to rent a hybrid car that’s already registered for Uber driving.

Below are three highly regarded hybrid models you might want to consider for driving Uber.

Kia Niro 2 Self-Charging Hybrid

The Kia Niro 2 Hybrid has always been a favourite amongst Uber drivers. With the rideshare market flooded with the Toyota Prius, the Kia Niro has provided a much-needed alternative to Uber drivers looking to stand out from the crowd.

The Niro has always been a head-turner across multiple plates. Importantly, It’s also got the brains to match the looks. Kia continuously adds new tech updates to the already impressive range to make driving not only more relaxing but easier on the environment and your wallet.

The Kia Niro features an elevated seating position and a more spacious interior for you and your riders than a typical sedan or hatch.

Read more about the Kia Niro 2 Self-Charging Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Hybrid Touring Sports

The sharp looks make it easy to spot the Corolla in a car park full of the mainstream models. And although it’s one of the most stylish estate cars around, the Corolla Hybrid Touring Sports is so much more than just a pretty face.

WhatCar has chosen it car of the year in the Hybrid category, and for good reason. It outranked the competition overall in terms of running costs, emissions, usability, as well as practicality.

Read more about the Toyota Corolla Hybrid Touring Sports

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has become synonymous with hybrid technology, and as a pioneering model, it probably needs no introduction. Although today we have better options for the budget-conscious driver, the world of EVs and hybrids has a lot to thank the Prius for. It was the first modern mass-produced hybrid that had become widely known and used.

As it became more popular it started many conversations that opened the public’s mind towards the benefits of going electric, and also gave the entire car industry that long-overdue push in that direction.

It was an instant hit for same reasons we love our hybrids today: you just fill up and go just as you would with any car, but you get to enjoy the instant torque of the electric motor, the availability of the petrol engine, as well as a low consumption due to the clever teamwork of the two.

Sign up to drive a petrol-electric hybrid

Plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEV)

What is a plug-in hybrid car?

In principle, plug-in hybrids are very similar to the above-mentioned petrol-electric hybrids, in that these too have an electric motor and a huge battery pack as well as internal combustion engine on board. The difference is in performance and ergonomy, as these are meant to be the bridge between fully electric cars and conventional hybrids.

 
Thanks to a bigger battery pack, plug-in hybrids have a larger all-electric range than a petrol-electric hybrid. At the same time they’re more practical than a fully electric car because the combustion engine works as a backup even when the batteries are completely drained. So much for range anxiety.

Most cars with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain have a zero-emission capable range of at least 20 miles. This means you will save not only on fuel, but also on the ULEZ and congestion charges (until the 21st of October 2021).

Below is our top recommended PHEV model for Uber:

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Premium

Sleek and attractive, the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Premium is quite the looker. And sleek it is, literally: its drag coefficient of just 0.24 has earned it a place among the most aerodynamic cars on the market. Low drag translates directly into power efficiency, which makes a difference both in electric range and your fuel bill.

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in has a charging time of approximately two hours and fifteen minutes, which gives you a 39-mile electric range or a total of 660+ miles combined with a full tank of fuel.

Read more about the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Premium

Sign up to drive a plug-in hybrid

Fully electric cars (EV)

What is an electric car?

EVs have one or more electric motors to drive the wheels, and use energy stored in rechargeable batteries. These cars don’t have internal combustion engines and they can only be recharged via an external source of electricity such as a wall socket or a charging station.

 
Electric cars are exempt from the London Congestion Charge, making them a great option for Uber drivers.

MG ZS EV

EVs are becoming ever more common, but there’s a problem. While they’re cheap to run, they’re quite expensive to buy, especially the decent-sized saloons, estates, and SUVs that are suitable for Uber. At least that used to be the case until the MG ZS EV came along.


Despite the attractive price, it’s not a stripped-down economy model. Even the entry-level Excite version comes with keyless entry, air-conditioning, adaptive cruise control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and 17-inch alloys.

At Splend, we currently don’t offer electric cars, however, we expect to have some models available on our PCO car rental and Rent to buy plans soon.

About Splend

Splend is more than a set of wheels. We’ll help steer your career.

In addition to providing you with the most important tool in your career as a rideshare driver, we also offer ongoing training, support, and data-driven feedback via your personal Member Success Representative. You also enjoy a growing array of member benefits including discounts from our partners.

For more information about Splend, drop by our Member Support Centre at 393 Edgware Road Cricklewood, London, email us, or say hello on 0333 016 4331

AUTHOR

Balazs Szekely

Maker by nature, writer by profession, and a petrolhead at heart, Balazs is our very own content creator who brings Splend’s voice to life. He’s been a wordsmith his entire career, having seen it all from the print media to radio through online publishing and marketing copywriting. He’s fascinated by things he has yet to fully understand such as photography, ice hockey, and the bizarre art of aquascaping. In his free time you may find him mixing up cocktails for his friends or away from home on a city break. Drop him a line at balazs.szekely@splend.com

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