Uber is no longer just about hauling people from the airport to their hotel or from the bar to their homes — it’s hauling freight.
The company unveiled Uber Freight, a cloud-based, on-demand, full truckload brokerage after the company tested concept in the “Texas Triangle,” Dallas, Houston and San Antonio for several months. And it basically operates the same way the ride-sharing service does.
Uber Freight features an app just like the regular Uber app. However, it’s aimed at approved driers, who can search for available loads, see destination info, distance required and payment before they agree. Once they find a gig they like, the driver taps and it’s booked.
The process cuts out a lot of haggling and back and forth that used to take hours, reducing it to a simple “Do you want to or not” concept.
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Uber says it can apply its technology matching drivers with passengers in urban areas to placing freight with truckers. The early response from independent truck drivers ranged from curiosity to excitement.
“I signed up for Uber Freight this morning because I believe that the more tech tools I have in my toolbox, the better armed my business is to compete for success,” said Jimmy Nevarez, an owner-operator from Chino, California, to Trucks.com.
Uber Freight Director Bill Driegert told Trucks.com not long after the site was launched that it was “getting tons of traffic.” He didn’t say how many drivers signed up. While the ease of use is appealing to many drivers, which matches them on a first-come, first-served basis once they agree to the price.
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However, many drivers believe the ability to haggle over the price can be the fine line between profit and loss. But for now, the rates appear to be appealing and getting paid in seven days, as opposed to as long as 90 days, is a big draw.
“If I can sustain a profit, I am willing to give Uber [Freight] a try,” Nevarez said. “But I refuse to settle if I know I am not going to be profitable on a load – I have set certain standards for myself.”
For now, the company’s big selling point is its name. The technology behind the app is well-known giving owner-operators a sense of comfort about taking jobs — and knowing they’ll get paid.
“Uber’s disruptive impact has been almost entirely in its easy connection of underutilized assets with demand. That’s the start and finish of why it has swept across the transportation landscape,” said Michael Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner Inc.
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“An Uber for hauling stuff is sensible and really builds on what trucking companies have tried to do in their own ecosystem to ensure that trucks are full as often as possible.”