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How does Uber work? Here’s how the app lets you ride, drive, or both

Uber has changed the way we move, and that’s not a hyperbole. The California-based company invented a brand-new concept that makes spending 10 minutes hailing a cab in the rain a thing of the past, while letting just about anyone earn money in their spare time by moonlighting as a taxi driver. The young company has been through more than its fair share of controversies (its founder and CEO recently resigned[1]), but the free Uber application remains one of the best mobility tools on the market, especially if you find yourself car-less in a big city.

Are you ready to start riding, driving or both? Our comprehensive “how does Uber work?” guide will answer all of your questions.

For riders

The first step is to download the app on your Android[2] or Apple[3] device, and provide basic information including your name, phone number, and credit card number. Once everything is set up, you need to enter the destination address into the box labeled “where to?” near the top of the screen.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact address; you can find where you need to go by entering the name of a business, like “Starbucks” or “Game Stop.” Uber also lets users add short stops to each trip. Confirm your destination, confirm your exact pick-up point by dropping a blue pin on the map, and the app will tell you approximately how long it will take to get there. It also provides the estimated cost of each service to ensure transparency, a feature appreciated by travelers who have gotten all too used to getting overcharged by taxi drivers claiming not to have a meter.

The cost of a ride depends on which service[4] you choose, and on the time of the day. The more people request an Uber ride at the same time, the more expensive a fare gets. Uber calls this “surge pricing[5].”

The basic services are called UberX, UberXL, and UberSelect, respectively. The difference lies in the price, and the type of car that will pick you up. UberX drivers are normally in a standard passenger car (e.g., a Honda Accord[6]) capable of carrying up to four riders.

UberXL operators have a bigger model (such as a Chrysler Pacifica[7]) that can carry up to six passengers. Finally, UberSelect is a more upscale service Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW drivers can participate in. Are you moving up in life?

Uber has you covered with UberBlack and UberSUV services that offer even nicer vehicles. You might hitch a ride in a Cadillac Escalade, a BMW 7 Series[8], a Mercedes-Benz S-Class[9], or a top-spec Chevrolet Suburban. UberBlack and UberSUV drivers must be commercially registered.

A handful of cities around the world also offer UberLux, the company’s flagship service. It’s expensive, but you’re guaranteed to arrive at your destination in an Audi A8[10], a Land Rover Range Rover, or a comparable high-end model. Talk about making an entrance!

Uber also offers a separate service for riders who need wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and a low-cost service named UberPool. As its name implies, UberPool is a car-pooling service that lets users share the same ride. Imagine you’re traveling from downtown Washington DC to Alexandria, Virginia.

Your Uber could stop and pick up a passenger traveling in roughly the same direction as you; from the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington, for example. It takes longer because you’re getting from point A to point B via points C and D, but it’s also the cheapest option. User beware: there’s no way of knowing in advance who you’ll ride with when using UberPool.

You could luck out and share a car with a quiet, discreet stranger, but you could also spend 15 minutes sitting next to a queasy student who is hungover from the night before. Or parents who think their kid screaming is adorable. In our experience, using UberPool is like playing society’s Russian roulette, and the risk of a hellish ride isn’t worth saving £2.50 on your fare.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Pick a fare, and you’ll soon get a message informing you that a car is on its way. The app provides the name of the driver and his or her rating ahead of time.

It also lists the car’s make, model, color, and registration number, plus approximately how many minutes until it arrives at the pick-up point. You can tell your Uber is on your way by looking at the location of the car-shaped icon on the map. Hop in, greet the driver, and you’re on your way.

Regardless of which service you choose, there’s a bar at the top of the application that tracks the trip’s progress and the estimated time of arrival. There is the option of sharing trip progress via a number of communication channels, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Gmail, and an old-fashioned text message. The great part about Uber is there’s no need to pay with cash; the app automatically pays the driver using the credit or debit card on file.

Upon reaching their destination, passenger simply get out of the car and get on with their day. Users are asked to rate the driver after reach ride, and they’re given the option to leave a tip. Both are optional.

Note drivers are asked to rate users on a zero-to-five scale, too. Keep in mind your rating is your reputation in the Uber community; few people have a perfect rating, but having one that’s unusually low might make finding a ride unusually complicated.

For drivers

To drive, start by downloading a free application named Uber Driver and filling out information about yourself (including your social security number, for a simple background check) and your car. Note not everyone is eligible to drive an Uber, and not every car is accepted by the company.

Drivers must be at least 21 years old, and they must have an in-state driver’s license. You need at least three years of driving experience if you’re under 23 years old, and at least a year of experience if you’re 24 or older. You need to be insured, and you need to pass both a background check and a criminal history check.

You’ll be fine if you’ve received the occasional speeding ticket, but don’t count on driving for Uber if you’ve been convicted of a DUI or if you have any kind of criminal history. The other requirements apply to the car. To drive, you must own a car no older than a 2007 model year, with four doors, and one that’s not salvaged.

It needs to be insured and registered, and it needs to get pass an Uber vehicle inspection that covers basic items like brakes, tires, lights, and seat belts. Submit everything, meet all of the requirements, and you’re ready to give your first ride. Simply turn on the app to receive notifications from riders who need a lift.

With Uber, you can decide how many hours you work per day. There’s no minimum or maximum. The amount you make will depend on how much you drive, and when you drive; the surge pricing we mentioned in the rider section is beneficial to drivers, because they earn more during busy hours.

Uber usually provides drivers with a list of the busiest hours in their area. Several factors gnaw at your earnings. Drivers aren’t employed by Uber — they’re independent contractors, so gasoline, maintenance (tires, oil changes, etc), and depreciation fall on the driver’s lap.

Drivers keep 75% of the fare, while Uber takes[11] the remaining 25%, and money earned through the application must be reported to the IRS as income. You’ll need a data connection to use the Uber Driver app, and Uber warns it typically uses about 2 GB of data per month. The app also reduces battery life, so we recommend getting a quality phone charger[12] to ensure you don’t have to ask your passengers to turn on Google Maps.

A solid car mount is a must-have, too.

Editor’s Recommendations


  1. ^ recently resigned (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ Android (play.google.com)
  3. ^ Apple (itunes.apple.com)
  4. ^ which service (www.ridesharingdriver.com)
  5. ^ surge pricing (help.uber.com)
  6. ^ Honda Accord (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ Chrysler Pacifica (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ BMW 7 Series (www.digitaltrends.com)
  9. ^ Mercedes-Benz S-Class (www.digitaltrends.com)
  10. ^ Audi A8 (www.digitaltrends.com)
  11. ^ takes (www.forbes.com)
  12. ^ phone charger (www.digitaltrends.com)

These automakers have learned to stop worrying and love the plug

Aside from a handful of pioneer models like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, automakers have largely shied away from electric cars. But that’s about to change. Over the past few months, several major automakers have announced plans to add large numbers of electric cars–along with hybrids and plug-in hybrids–to their lineups.

Some have even pledged to stop selling cars that don’t feature some degree of electrification. Some have even pledged to stop selling cars that don’t feature some degree of electrification It’s a bold move, but automakers may not have a choice.

World governments are passing stricter regulations to curb carbon emissions. China–the world’s largest car market–will institute sales quotas[1] for electric cars and plug-in hybrids in 2019. Several European countries are considering banning sales of new conventional gasoline and diesel cars in the coming decades.

While the current U.S. presidential administration opposes regulations related to climate change, automakers will still have to realize significant efficiency gains under regulations that have already been locked in. California–which is allowed to set its own emissions standards–continues to pursue aggressive policies promoting electric cars. But automakers are preparing for this low-carbon future.

Here are the plans that have been announced so far, including the new electric cars and hybrids that will hit the road over the next few years.


At the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW announced plans for 25 electrified models by 2025. That total includes 12 all-electric cars. These cars will be sold not only under the main BMW brand, but also Mini and Rolls-Royce.

Even BMW’s vaunted “M” performance division will get some electric cars or hybrids. BMW has more experience with electrification than some of its luxury rivals. The automaker already sells the i3 electric car[2] and a fleet of plug-in hybrids–including the sleek i8 coupe.

BMW definitely needs an electric model to slot between the i3 and i8 Up next is a production model based on the Mini Electric concept[3], which will arrive in 2019. An all-electric version of the BMW X3 crossover will follow in 2020, and an i8 convertible is also in the pipeline.

In 2021, BMW will unveil the iNext, an all-electric sedan that will also have some degree of autonomous-driving capability[4]. It’s unclear how BMW will fill the many remaining electric-car slots. The automaker definitely needs an electric model to slot between the i3 and i8 in its “i” sub-brand, and rumors of such a model have swirled for the past few years.

The BMW i Vision Dynamics concept[5] from the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show provides a hint at what this new electric car could look like.


The parent company of Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and Smart will soon offer a hybrid or all-electric version of nearly every car it makes. Mercedes will offer an electrified version of every model in its lineup by 2022, Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche announced at the company’s investor day in September. Mercedes will eventually offer no less than 50 hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars, Zetsche said at the time.

Daimler previously announced that Smart would sell only electric cars in North America[6] beginning in 2018. The automaker has sold Electric Drive versions of its Fortwo alongside gasoline versions for several years. In the U.S., Mercedes currently sells plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Class, S-Class, and GLE-Class, but just discontinued its only all-electric model, the B250e[7].

Mercedes’ future electric-car plans center around EQ, a new sub-brand for electric cars analogous to BMW’s “i” division. EQ will eventually encompass 10 models, the first of which will be a production version of the Generation EQ SUV concept[8] that debuted at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. A production version of the EQA concept[9] from the 2017 Frankfurt show will likely follow.

In addition to cars, Daimler plans to electrify commercial vehicles. It’s currently upgrading a factory in Germany to build electric versions of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van[10], and recently delivered a handful of Fuso eCanter electric trucks[11] in the U.S.


The Blue Oval recently formed “Team Edison[12],” a dedicated group focused on the development of electric cars. But the company’s electrification plans seems a bit more limited than its competitors’.

Ford’s only confirmed new all-electric model is an unnamed SUV launching in 2020, which will have a 300-mile range. The company will also build[13] hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150, and its promised self-driving car[14] (due in 2021) will be a hybrid as well. Those will be among the 13 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric models Ford has said are in the pipeline.

Outside of passenger cars, Ford is building a Fusion Hybrid police car[15], with plans for a second hybrid police vehicle. It’s also working with DHL to build electric vans in Germany, is demonstrating a plug-in hybrid van in London, and unveiled a prototype Transit Connect hybrid taxi at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

General Motors

Andrew Hard/Digital Trends

Detroit’s largest automaker may have created the Chevrolet Volt[16] and Bolt EV[17], but until now it hasn’t tried to build on those successes with a wider range of models. On October 2, though, GM announced an electric-car blitz.

GM will launch at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023 GM will launch at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023[18], with the first two coming in the next 18 months. The automaker has not offered specific details on what types of vehicles these will be, or which brands they will be sold under, but it did say that future models will apply lessons learned from the Bolt EV[19].

The General is also one of a group of automakers still pursuing hydrogen fuel cells. It has a deal with Honda to partner on the technology, and has shown military-oriented hydrogen pickup truck[20] and cargo vehicle concepts[21]. However, this work hasn’t coalesced into any apparent plans for a production fuel-cell passenger car yet.


The Korean automaker is taking an “all of the above” approach to reducing emissions.

Hyundai currently rosters hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, and fuel cell models, and it’s planning more of each. Those plans include sibling brand Kia and the Genesis luxury brand. In August, Hyundai announced a new round of green car launches, with the goal of adding 31 new “eco-friendly” models across the Hyundai and Kia brands by 2020.

That includes an electric version of the new Kona SUV[22], which will have a 390-kilometer (242-mi) range and arrive in the first half of 2018. After that, Genesis will get its first all-electric model in 2021, and Hyundai will launch an electric car with a 500-km (310-mi) range that same year. Hyundai is also working on a second-generation fuel cell SUV[23] to replace the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Jaguar Land Rover

In September, JLR announced[24] that it would put a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric powertrain in every new model beginning in 2020.

Given the tight timeframe and the need to please conservative buyers, it’s likely that most of these future models will be mild hybrids, which use electric power primarily to run accessories rather than for propulsion. Mild hybrids are cheaper to engineer, and feel more like conventional cars from behind the wheel. But not every new JLR product will go the mild-hybrid route.

The Jaguar I-Pace[25] electric SUV will launch next year, and Land Rover has already confirmed plug-in hybrid versions of the Range Rover[26] and Range Rover Sport[27]. Electrifying the automaker’s sedans and crossovers should be pretty straightforward, but some models–like the Jaguar F-Type sports car and upcoming Land Rover Defender SUV–might prove more difficult.

Volkswagen Group

As it works to recover from its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen is about to undertake what might be the most ambitious electrification effort of all.

VW wants to offer a hybrid or all-electric version of every model across its numerous brands by 2030. Right now, the company offers more than 300 distinct models ranging from the humble Volkswagen Up![28] to the mighty Bugatti Chiron[29]. By 2025, Volkswagen wants to introduce 50 all-electric cars and 30 plug-in hybrids.

By 2025, Volkswagen wants to introduce 80 new electrified models, including 50 all-electric cars and 30 plug-in hybrids. The identities of some of these new models have already been revealed. The Volkswagen brand will get production versions of the I.D. hatchback[30], I.D.

Crozz[31] crossover, and I.D. Buzz[32] electric-car concepts. Inspired by the classic VW Microbus, the I.D.

Buzz has been confirmed for a 2022 launch, but it’s unclear when the other two will arrive in showrooms. VW’s luxury brands are also getting in on the electrification act. Audi will launch its e-tron electric SUV[33] next year, and will follow that up with a production version of the e-tron Sportback concept[34] in 2019.

Porsche will launch an electric four-door sedan based on the Mission E concept[35] by the end of the decade.


The Swedish automaker kicked off the wave of grandiose electrification announcements when it declared in July[36] that, beginning in 2019, every new car it sells will have a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric powertrain. Volvo already has something of a head start on this. It already sells “T8” plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country, and XC60.

The recently revealed XC40 crossover will get a plug-in hybrid variant as well. Other Volvo models will likely get the plug-in hybrid option as they are redesigned, with mild hybrids filling out the rest of the lineup. Volvo doesn’t currently have any all-electric cars in its lineup, but it will launch five of them between 2019 and 2021.

Three will be sold under the main Volvo brand, and two will be allotted to Volvo’s Polestar performance sub-brand.

The rest

Other automakers have smaller-scale electrification plans. Here’s a sampling. The Nissan Leaf is the bestselling electric car in history, and a new model is on the way[37].

Nissan’s partner Renault sells electric cars in Europe, and new acquisition Mitsubishi has its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid[38]. But the three automakers have not discussed electrifying a larger array of models. That may happen eventually, though, in which case Nissan and Renault will adopt Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid tech, and Mitsubishi will lean on its new benefactors’ experience with all-electric cars.

SB© toyota has been a champion of hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells, but has been less enthusiastic about battery-electric cars. Japan’s largest automaker is now expected to launch a mass-market electric car by the end of the decade, and will continue selling its Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. But hybrids without plugs will likely continue to dominate its product plans.

Mazda has no hybrids or electric cars in its lineup, but still manages to lead automakers in average fuel economy[39]. But it will need to add plug-in hybrids or all-electric cars to satisfy California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, and a partnership with SB© toyota should help with that. Subaru is in the same boat, so expect it to launch at least one new car with a plug to comply with the California rules.

Aston Martin is working on an electric version of its Rapide sedan called the RapidE. The car is expected to launch in 2019, and will be a limited-production model. Aston CEO Andy Palmer previously said the RapidE will have 800 to 1,000 horsepower, and a range of over 200 miles.

The RapidE will be a stepping stone to a higher-volume model, likely an electric version of the upcoming DBX SUV. More recently, Palmer said Aston will electrify its entire lineup by the mid 2020s.

Honda currently sells all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell versions of its Clarity. The Japanese automaker wants electrified models to make up two thirds of its global sales by 2030, but so far it has committed to ending sales of conventional gasoline and diesel cars only in Europe.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne is a notorious critic of electric cars, and the company has not announced any large-scale plans to develop them. But as a large global automaker, FCA will need to embrace electrification to meet tougher global emissions standards.

Editor’s Recommendations


  1. ^ will institute sales quotas (www.reuters.com)
  2. ^ the i3 electric car (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ Mini Electric concept (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ autonomous-driving capability (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ BMW i Vision Dynamics concept (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ sell only electric cars in North America (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ the B250e (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ Generation EQ SUV concept (www.digitaltrends.com)
  9. ^ EQA concept (www.mercedes-benz.com)
  10. ^ the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van (insideevs.com)
  11. ^ Fuso eCanter electric trucks (www.digitaltrends.com)
  12. ^ Team Edison (www.reuters.com)
  13. ^ will also build (www.digitaltrends.com)
  14. ^ promised self-driving car (www.digitaltrends.com)
  15. ^ Fusion Hybrid police car (www.digitaltrends.com)
  16. ^ Chevrolet Volt (www.digitaltrends.com)
  17. ^ Bolt EV (www.digitaltrends.com)
  18. ^ 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023 (www.digitaltrends.com)
  19. ^ the Bolt EV (www.digitaltrends.com)
  20. ^ hydrogen pickup truck (www.digitaltrends.com)
  21. ^ cargo vehicle concepts (www.digitaltrends.com)
  22. ^ the new Kona SUV (www.digitaltrends.com)
  23. ^ second-generation fuel cell SUV (www.digitaltrends.com)
  24. ^ JLR announced (www.digitaltrends.com)
  25. ^ Jaguar I-Pace (www.digitaltrends.com)
  26. ^ Range Rover (www.digitaltrends.com)
  27. ^ Range Rover Sport (www.digitaltrends.com)
  28. ^ Volkswagen Up! (www.volkswagen.co.uk)
  29. ^ Bugatti Chiron (www.digitaltrends.com)
  30. ^ I.D. hatchback (www.digitaltrends.com)
  31. ^ I.D. Crozz (www.digitaltrends.com)
  32. ^ I.D.

    Buzz (www.digitaltrends.com)

  33. ^ e-tron electric SUV (www.digitaltrends.com)
  34. ^ e-tron Sportback concept (www.digitaltrends.com)
  35. ^ the Mission E concept (www.digitaltrends.com)
  36. ^ declared in July (www.digitaltrends.com)
  37. ^ a new model is on the way (www.digitaltrends.com)
  38. ^ Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid (www.digitaltrends.com)
  39. ^ in average fuel economy (www.jdpower.com)

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