Uber Says It Can Lower the Cost of Flight to UberX Prices
Think you can't afford a ride in a flying taxi? Uber says that likely won't be the case once its airborne taxis take to the skies. Executives at the ride-hailing company said Tuesday that when the program launches, prices for flights will be about the same as a regular Uber ride in a car.
"Today, helicopters are only affordable for the fairly wealthy," Eric Allison, the head of Uber's helicopter and flying taxi division, said Tuesday at the company's third annual Uber Elevate conference in Washington, DC.
At launch, Allison said that Uber can operate, its flying taxis, dubbed Uber Air, for "something that's pretty close" to an Uber Black on a per mile basis.
As time goes on and Uber can operate more flights and get more people onto each flight, Allison predicts that within a couple of years from launch Uber can get the "price per seat mile much closer, probably exceeding that of UberX."
Last week, Uber announced that it would be launching on-demand helicopter service in New York City in July, ferrying passengers between lower Manhattan and JFK airport. On average, those flights will cost about $200-225 one-way, although they'll also be subject to Uber's dynamic pricing model.
Allison says that when Uber launches eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft, it can reduce that cost by about a third just because of the efficiency of the technology itself.
The ride-hailing giant made an even bolder claim after that, saying it will use scale manufacturing and autonomous technology to get the prices even more competitive.
"But that's not enough," Allison said. "In the long term, Uber Air on a per seat basis will be competitive with car ownership."
Uber executives have said they want to end car-ownership, so if it could really get the price of Uber Air flights down to the these low levels — then they might have a chance. However it's a very long-way off before this becomes a reality. Especially considering the company is unprofitable and essentially subsidizes the cost of every passenger's ride.
This morning, Uber unveiled a full-scale real-life demo of a future Uber Air aircraft cabin. Uber plans on launching test flights of its air taxis next year and wants to begin commercial service in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2023.