Uber opens the company store

Inside Uber’s Auto-Lease Machine, Where Almost Anyone Can Get a Car - Bloomberg:

Xchange caters to people who have been rejected by other lenders. The program is run by Andrew Chapin, who pitched it to Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick in 2012. Before joining Uber, Chapin was a Goldman Sachs commodities trader. He oversees all of Uber's auto-financing efforts, including a partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and vehicle-purchase discounts. "I want the driver to get an option that is best for them," Chapin said. "I try to provide a menu of options that the industry thus far has not provided."

Xchange isn't intended to be a moneymaker, said an Uber spokesman. But it has plenty of critics who accuse the company of looting the pockets of its drivers. The program is plagued by a lot of questions that surround other subprime lending programs aimed at risky borrowers with bad credit. Is Xchange really offering good deals? Does it ensnare drivers with commitments they can't meet? "You can buy the car for what they're charging you in weekly payments," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at personal-finance website Bankrate.com. But for many drivers who sign up with Xchange, it's their only option.

The terms of an Xchange lease run 28 pages. Drivers pay a $250 upfront deposit and then make weekly payments to Uber over the course of the three-year life of the lease. As the video promoting the arrangement puts it: "The best part: Payments are automatically deducted from your Uber earnings." At the end of three years, Uber keeps the $250 deposit to release the drivers from the lease. If they want to buy it, they'll need to fork over the residual value of the car, which could run many thousands of dollars. Uber declined to provide an average figure.

But remember, everyone—they're just a platform, enabling business agreements between consenting individuals.

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