Harry here. It’s been a little while since we did an update on what it’s like driving for UberXL or UberSELECT, so when guest poster Monika Dean reached out to me about her XL and SELECT experience over the last two years, I knew I had to share her expertise with you. Keep reading to see if you can still make money driving for XL or SELECT, and if it’s worth the wear and tear on your vehicle. Do you drive for XL or SELECT? Leave a comment below and let us know what your experience has been.
It’s already been two years since I left my first comments on this website asking Harry if he thought I could make any money driving the UberXL/SELECT platform. Naturally, the first thing most people ask me is, why drive for Uber? Can you even make any money driving a $70,000 luxury SUV with Uber?
The answer to that question is not so straightforward. Yes, I have made money driving for UberXL/SELECT with my Audi Q7 luxury SUV. It has had its setbacks as well, therefore it seems only appropriate I take you a little closer into the world of driving on the XL/SELECT platform.
Making the Move to XL/SELECT
First of all, it’s important to understand I’m a part-time driver. I would not recommend driving for Uber as a full-time gig. It can be exhausting driving 12-14 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week! It’s important we try to find a balance in our life and work is not everything! I have a day job working in the field (oddly enough doing a considerable amount of driving over the southern part of California), so driving is no stranger to me.
I began driving for Uber initially, like most, as an X driver, driving an economical Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Crossover vehicle. The fuel economy was awesome, the ride was fun, but it was UberX. I did okay, making around $200 – $225 a weekend driving just the Friday and Saturday night club scene crowd for 8-10 hours each night. But I calculated I was only making about $10/hr after expenses driving the UberX platform. I felt I was worth more than that.
After extensive research, I decided to jump into the XL/SELECT arena and purchased a pre-owned Audi Q7 TDI Diesel luxury SUV back in the spring of 2015. I felt with the fuel economy of the diesel and the lower diesel prices at the pump, I had a winner!
How Much Can You Make as an XL/SELECT Driver?
First, and probably the most important, how did it increase my bottom line? To answer that though, we need to understand the costs associated with driving a luxury SUV. It’s not cheap when an oil change for an Audi at a German Auto shop runs about $140, as opposed to probably $50 for a normal domestic vehicle.
There is an upside to that synthetic oil change, though, that should be taken into account. My Audi only requires regular service every 10,000 miles, as opposed to every 3,000 miles. I only required 4 oil changes in 2016, so it doesn’t seem that bad after you average it all out. On the other hand, breakdowns? Yes, I had a few!
First, not to any fault of my own, I had 2 incidents that required my Audi to be in the body shop twice last year. One occurred during a severe wind storm, when the wind caught my driver’s door and swung it past the door stops and bent the entire door and quarter panel. That cost me a $500 deductible to get that repaired. The second happened when I had a valet service scratch the entire side of my car on one occasion and that cost me 3 weekends of not being able to drive for Uber while it was in the body shop.
Then the Audi developed a crack in the exhaust manifold for the turbo, and that cost me $1,200 straight out of pocket for a new one (there was no warranty left on my Audi). So, there were some setbacks in 2016 that made it challenging to say the least.
Nonetheless, I was shocked to discover I still made $18,500 part-time driving UberXL/SELECT in 2016. That is after all UBER fees, working just part-time weekends. Subtracting all the time my Audi spent in service and the body shop and some weekends I took off, I would say that isn’t too bad!
I probably only drove 35 weekends out of the 52 weekends last year, so overall I feel it was a success. Hourly, I calculated I was making approximately $18-$24/hr while on the XL/SELECT platform.
It’s Not Just the Money
Did I feel like my life was improved financially and otherwise overall from driving UberXL/SELECT in the last 2 years? Overall I can say my life is richer in some aspects. I have met some crazy fun people Ubering! I have had some pretty famous people get in my car that I would have never otherwise met! I had the pop singer Sia ride in my car over Labor Day weekend last year and within the same week I picked up Victoria Secret supermodel Adriana Lima at LAX.
One time I was in Santa Barbara and answered a request to Santa Barbara Airport. It turned out to be a film crew who just finished filming a music video on a Lear Jet for some rap star whom I don’t remember, and their flight from SB to LAX was cancelled, so they paid me $500 to take them and their equipment to LAX. Last summer I picked up girls from a party Selena Gomez was attending in Malibu Hills, and most recently drove the guitarist and singer from Def Leppard down to the Magic Castle with some friends!
Those experiences would have most likely NOT happened if I hadn’t been driving UberXL/SELECT. So, from a social aspect, I can say I have had some very enriched experiences. Some of my best friends I have now, I met while driving for Uber.
Building Your Business
Was it worth it from a financial standpoint? Well, that’s a tough question! I remember one of the earliest suggestions Harry gave me when I began driving on this platform was “network”! Network with others to gain a private clientele base from which to make money from. One thing I did initially was get business cards made up.
Anytime I picked up a rider clear out in Ventura County that was heading my way into LA, I would ask them “Will you be needing a ride back into Ventura County later tonight”? Naturally they almost always said yes, so I handed them my card! When I picked them up later that evening, they simply waited until they got in my car to order the XL ride and BAM, now my rider just paid for my return trip back home!
These were some of the things I did to give me an edge with every ride. On the other hand, networking to build a private clientele didn’t work out as well. I think it might be the area I live in. In Ventura, I never found the loyalty that needs to be present to establish a regular client base.
Maybe that kind of thing could work in such areas as South Orange County or West LA, but I didn’t have much luck in Ventura County establishing that. I had two private clients that needed rides to LAX a few times a year, but that was about it.
Driving a Luxury Vehicle
From a financial standpoint, driving a used luxury SUV for Uber is not without its surprises! Just recently, my Audi left me stranded when the fuel pump imploded internally.
The cost of the repair? $10,500! No, that is NOT a typo! Luckily, it was a problem Audi was aware of in their “Silent Recall list” and they performed the repair free of any costs to me.
Overall though, I would say driving a luxury vehicle in the XL/SELECT category is NOT for the faint of heart. If you are the type that flies by the seat of your pants for your finances, or is ill-equipped to handle a sudden costly repair, driving a luxury SUV is probably not the best choice. If on the other hand, you have a stable day job and are looking to add some spending money to your bank account and have a luxury vehicle already, driving on the XL/SELECT platform can be rewarding and just a LOT OF FUN!
About Monika: Monika lives in Ventura, but has been a bit of wanderer all her life, living in 5 different countries and traveling to over 50. Monika was honored to serve 10 years in the Air Force as a Flight Engineer before finding her way into Automation Controls in the civilian world. During the day, Monika is a Field Applications Engineer, and an Uber/Lyft Driver by night. What started out as just a short stop gap measure to pay bills has turned into a 3 year gig!
Monika began driving first for Lyft in the summer of 2014. In 2015, she began driving for Uber. She began driving with a Mitsubishi Outlander, but within a year had upgraded to her Audi Q7 S-Line.
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Readers, have you driven for XL or SELECT, and what has been your experience with it? Have you taken a ride with XL or SELECT?