AA BUYER'S GUIDE: The best used rideshare vehicles
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If you have decided to get into the rideshare game it’s important to choose your vehicle carefully. Many operators have a list of standard operating criteria that must be adhered to, so it’s important to check these out before you begin your search.
Here are some of the requirements for an UberX vehicle, as an example.
Minimum vehicle requirements
- In excellent working condition
- Not older than the maximum age for the Uber vehicle option chosen (UberX vehicles must be 10 years old or less)
- A qualified vehicle according to specific product requirements
- Registered and insured in New Zealand
- Free from cosmetic damage and commercial branding
- Other minimum rules apply to specific vehicle options
What other factors must you consider?
- Running and servicing costs - You should consider both running and servicing costs. These can add up, so it’s important to choose robust models with good parts availability.
- Comfort – You’ll be spending a lot of time behind the wheel, in most cases travelling 65-75,000km per year. Check that there is enough space for both you and your passengers when you are all seated in your usual comfortable positions.
- Type of business you will be focusing on – For example, airport runs or larger groups? If the majority of the business will be transporting large groups, then a larger model should be considered.
Many buyers looking for that ideal set of wheels will be searching in the used car market, so choose carefully. Once you have narrowed your search down, have the vehicle assessed by a professional or organisation, like the AA Pre Purchase Inspection team. It also pays to check the vehicle's value before you buy with an AA Vehicle Valuation Report and the vehicle’s history with an AA History Report.
So, what’s popular?
We interviewed Sahil Sachdeva, operations manager for Mode Rideshare, which is also an official partner with Uber. Mode is a supplier of vehicles to NZ's rideshare drivers.
Mode Rideshare also offers a range of flexible options to people who don’t necessarily want to buy or do not want to use their own vehicle for passenger services.
Sahil Sachdeva’s top five choices
- Toyota Prius or Prius V/Alpha hybrid
- Toyota Prius C/Aqua hybrid
- Toyota Camry hybrid
- Toyota Fielder hybrid
- Mazda Axela hybrid
Prius/Prius V (aka Prius Alpha)
“Although many hate the Prius, it’s very practical. The reason for it being my favourite at the moment is because of its fuel efficiency and hybrid technology. There is also a good availability of parts, and a generous boot. Budget for between $12k -$16k”
We would agree that these models seldom have problems and are rather capacious, especially the Prius Alpha which adds extra flexibility with its seven seat configuration; however be mindful with all seats deployed, as there is little room for luggage.
Toyota Prius C (aka Aqua)
“This model is very popular for part time drivers - those who already have full time jobs and want to earn some extra money. The reason it’s in the top five is because of its fuel efficiency, easily available parts, compact size and low cost between $6k-$10k”
It’s not surprising Aqua is so popular, with its affordable entry price and perky performance; however, it’s not ideal for larger drivers due to its small size.
“This is one of the best luxury rideshare vehicles and an all-time favourite for long term/full time drivers. Benefits include the fuel efficiency of the hybrid system, easy to find parts, ample boot size and its price, between $16k–$20k. I have seen some Camrys do 400-500,000km and still run quite well on NZ roads.”
Toyota Camrys offer a very comfortable quiet ride indeed. We haven’t heard from too many people reaching such high mileages, but a well maintained Toyota is bound to go far. In recent years Toyota’s styling has been refined and seems to echo some luxury design cues from Lexus.
“For drivers who like station wagons, this is one of the best hybrid cars you can buy at a good price. The reason for this model being in the top five are fuel efficiency, easily available parts, and great cargo capacity. You should budget for between $10k–$12k”.
The Fielder is also a popular choice for some of our AA members simply looking for a fuel efficient wagon; often members tell us they are trying to choose between the Honda Shuttle hybrid and the Toyota Fielder.
“Rideshare drivers who don’t like the Prius are moving towards the Mazda Axela hybrid, although this vehicle cannot beat the performance of the Prius in terms of fuel efficiency and parts are not the easiest to find. Pricing ranges from $14k-18k.”
We have seen this model available at some of our AA Preferred Dealers and the Mazda’s design philosophy is always a big draw card. But because these models are not as abundant as the Prius, the selection could be a tad limited.