Uber may be looking at sweetening its relationship with drivers in India, its second largest market, weeks after the company made it clear the days of lucrative incentives are behind it.
The ride-hailing company is rethinking its car leasing strategy through which it tried to lock in drivers and also make additional revenue.
Last year, Uber had planned to introduce 15,000 new cars through its leasing program, but the company suspended the scheme for a while in December, the report adds.
Mashable understands the number of cars Uber has offered through leasing program is higher than 15,000.
Last month, thousands of Uber drivers went on a strike for more than eight days in the national capital, New Delhi. Some of these drivers refused to get back to work for as long as 14 days.
The drivers, more than half of whom operate for Ubers rival Ola, had put up a list of demands that they wanted the companies to address. The demands included reinstatement of big incentives, surge in base fare, as well as a stop to any new addition of cars to either of the platforms.
Uber and Ola have dropped their incentives significantly over the past few months, drivers claim. Not long ago, these drivers were able to earn as much as Rs 90,000 ($1,375) a month in India, a figure that has dropped to under Rs 40,000 ($510) for most, according to more than 20 drivers Mashable has spoken to over the past few weeks.
In addition to that, drivers complained that the number of customers they get per day has also fallen over the years. During the ride-hailing companies’ peak popularity, drivers used to serve over 12 customers a day and sometimes one every hour.
These days however, many of the drivers we spoke to say, six to seven rides a day seems to be the tipping point. Some drivers said they’re on the road for as long as 18 hours, but barely get more than 10 customers.
Addressing Uber drivers’ income drop, the company’s India operations president Amit Jain said, “Driver earnings have evolved over time and while some drivers do earn less than they did three years ago, we believe that driver earnings in India are attractive for the majority even after reductions in incentives and drivers costs are taken into account.”
Some drivers allege it’s because Uber is giving preferential treatment to drivers who have leased the car from the company. They claim that those drivers get more customers and duties than them. A driver, whose last name is Singh, said everyone is aware of this practice, but they dont have the means to prove it.
Analysts say that Uber as well as Ola have spent much of their time in the past few years “grabbing the land.” The companies wanted to get as many cars on the road as possible to kill the incumbent players’ presence in the nation.
But that phase of their strategy is over, and now the supply of Uber and Ola cars in the market exceeds the demand, analysts say. More drivers on the networks have also meant that the existing drivers are seeing the work getting aggressively divided among them.
Uber launched its leasing program UberShaan in India last year, through which it also offered driving skilling programs. The company has partnered with carmakers Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki to offer cars to its drivers.
In a statement to Mashable, the company had said last year it plans to bring “empower” a million drivers by 2018, adding that it hopes to see one out of five new drivers on its platform join through the leasing program.
Uber’s rival Ola also offers leasing programs through its partners Nissan Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra and BMW.