Peter, interesting insights but I’m not sure how the math works. Riders pay less, drivers earn more, and Uber gets a 20% of gross revenue. What part of the traditional cab service value chain was removed in order to enable this? Also, does this contemplate that rides are often at a premium price (surge) to the published base rates? Also, does the analysis adjust for the fact that Uber drivers are contractors without traditional workplace benefits, eg healthcare? Although I love using Uber, I’m sometimes frustrated by the lack of local knowledge that many drivers have about the cities. In NYC, cab drivers know all the tricks to get you from point A to point B as fast as possible. I find that when you inevitably hit traffic, a yellow cab driver will find his or her way around it while an Uber driver will begin to fiddle with his or her smartphone. For this reason, I still prefer yellow cabs in NYC.
I heard Dan Koh (Boston Mayor’s Chief of Staff and HBS graduate) speak at the Tech Conference not too long ago and was impressed with what the Mayor’s office is doing with data. In addition to mentioning the pothole project, he spoke about a partnership with Waze that yielded data used in traffic flow studies, resulting in modifications to parking/idling rule enforcement strategies, and about intelligent dispatch of snow removal equipment during the brutal early 2015 months. There’s a brief line in the YouTube video where the subject says the initiative is more about citizen experience than efficiency, which leaves me wondering: is this ultimately a way to reduce costs and save money for taxpayers? I do think, though, that government in general suffers from an egregious lack of citizen-facing technology. Both in the ability of government to interact with citizens digitally, and in the user interfaces/experience, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
I enjoyed reading this post. At first glance, it’s logical to assume you need some way to swap batteries to make electric cars practical. But when you consider average driving statistics, it’s clear that current technology is more than enough for the average driver. For example, according to the AAA, the average American driver will drive about 13,500 miles in a year. On a daily basis, this is 37 miles per day. A Tesla Model S has 270 miles of EPA-rated range on a charge, but even downmarket pure EV’s can travel 80-100 miles on a charge. For the vast majority of consumers, home charging is sufficient – and many Tesla owners ask their electricians to install higher power 240 volt outlets (similar to what you would use for a washing machine) to increase the speed of charging. Even if more people bought cars that were compatible with Better Place’s technology, I think as battery capacity increased to where it is today, consumers would have realized that charging wasn’t really a pain point, and Better Place’s services would not have been necessary.
Steve, in response to your comment on what comes first – the fleet of EV’s or the EV infrastructure – the infrastructure is already here, and far more available than gas stations! EV’s can charge out of ANY outlet, and it only costs a few hundred dollars for an electrician to convert a standard outlet (which you could use to charge, but it would take a long time) to a 240V outlet capable of charging a Tesla Model S in 4-5 hours. One additional note – the 4-5 hour charge time is assuming your battery is fully drained. But because the average driver would have only used 30 miles, it would take well under an hour to charge at the end of a day. This can actually happen while you sleep – even though you may plug in the car when you arrive home from work or dinner, the car is smart and will charge when utility rates are lowest, often in the early hours of the morning.
Tesla has also been building out its own network of Superchargers, which can charge a Model S for free in under an hour.