Since January, Uber has partnered in California with flexible car-leasing startup Fair to supply vehicles to drivers for a $185 refundable security deposit. Drivers can then earn that much in credits from Uber if they complete 70 trips a week, which can effectively offset payments owed to Fair.
“Uber wants to really find a way to lower the barrier or the hurdle to getting into a car,”
Scott Painter, Fair’s founder and chief executive officer, said in a phone interview about the program, which is expanding to 10 major markets across the U.S. “This is designed specifically to attract drivers who may not even have enough credit to get a traditional car loan of any kind.”
Uber agreed to sell its subprime-lending unit to Fair in
January 2018, which gave the startup access to a pool of drivers that now make up roughly half of the company’s more than 30,000 active users. Initially conceived as a way to help new drivers get started, Uber’s unit formerly known as Xchange Leasing
racked up losses and
drew criticism for saddling drivers with financial commitments they struggled to meet.
Painter said Fair’s model will be less risky because the company is more flexible about allowing drivers to return a car when they want and isn’t requiring them to make a significant financial commitment over a years-long lease.
Fair also maintains a digital link to a user’s bank account or credit card. While the company runs a credit check off an applicant’s driver’s license, there’s no traditional financing process needed because Fair maintains ownership of the vehicle.
Ahead of Uber’s
$8.1 billion initial public offering this month, drivers