Many people have speculated and tried to figure out how many drivers Uber has. Since Uber is still a private company, they don’t have to make that information public. But that doesn’t stop people from speculating!
There have been numerous good guesses based on things we do know about Uber, but none of them can be really confirmed. In fact, it may even be impossible for Uber to know how many drivers they have exactly.
When we ask how many drivers Uber has, we need to define what we’re talking about exactly. Uber has two kinds of drivers; active and inactive.
If we’re asking how many total drivers Uber has today – Uber could give us a figure that would show how many drivers are signed up to drive on the platform. But that wouldn’t really tell us how many drivers they really have because a lot of those drivers may have decided to stop driving, but they’re still registered with Uber as drivers.
Drivers can apparently stay on Uber’s driver’s list even if they haven’t done any trips in a very long time. They may have moved onto other things and never plan to go back to Uber – yet their name is still in Uber’s computer where they’re still registered as a driver.
In fact, the only hard figure Uber could actually give us, if they were so inclined to divulge that information, would be to tell us how many drivers drove today or, this week or this month. That would be the most accurate answer as to how many drivers they have.
Uber’s CEO Almost Divulges the Figure!
Dara Khosrowshahi, in a live stream presentation to drivers last week let a figure slip out that is significant because of who it came from. But insignificant because it didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know!
Khosrowshahi told drivers in the audience and online that Uber has “millions of people” driving every single week around the world!
At the 12:30 mark he said that Uber has, “Millions of people around the world drive with Uber every single week.”
Okay, so that doesn’t really tell us much! We all assumed it was a few million. In fact, most of the guestimates you’ll find online estimate that there are 1-1.5 million drivers in the U.S. alone. Many of these only apply to drive to unlock a sign up bonus, meet the requirements to get paid out, then stop driving.
But that wasn’t the last word during the drivers’ live stream presentation! There was another speaker, who got a little more specific. His name is Yuhki Yamashita and he’s the Group Product Manager at Uber.
Yamashita started his presentation with a look at the future of the driver experience. And to kick things off, he began with a number. A very big number!
The number was 8.5 million. This is, as he said, about the same number of hours that you have in a thousand years. And that’s true – although it’s actually 970 years. But close enough for our purposes!
8.5 million is the total number of hours Uber drivers around the world spend on the road – each day! Yamashita’s point was that it’s amazing to think that every single day, the equivalent of 1,000 years of time is spent by Uber drivers driving. And that is amazing. But, it also gives us a clue as to how many Uber drivers there might be.
Academic studies, private surveys and other methods of extracting this information, have shown that Uber drivers average about 4 hours of driving a day on the days they drive. So, if we have 8.5 million driving hours on the road each day, and drivers average around 4 hours a day, that would put us at a little over 2 million drivers.
In fact, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, put the figure at exactly 2 million in the middle of last year (2017). In a blog post, he said:
In a highly competitive market it is easy to become obsessed with growth, instead of taking the time to ensure you’re on the right path. Now is that time… to pause for a moment and think about what really matters here: providing 65 million riders transportation when they need it, giving 2 million drivers flexible work options, and creating a company culture we are proud of.
So, that looks like a pretty solid answer to how many drivers Uber has – at least at the halfway point of 2017.
Does Uber Have Too Many Drivers?
It would appear so. If you take Yamashita’s 8.5 million hours of driving a day and combine it with Camp’s statement that there are 2 million drivers, it would seem, based on known averages, that what Camp meant is that there are 2 million drivers on the road each day.
Camp also said this in that same blog post:
Uber has become a global service providing roughly 15 million rides per day across 500 cities, and international markets are growing as fast as ever.
So, if Uber is completing 15 million rides per day (worldwide) with 2 million drivers, that means there are 7.5 passengers per driver – on average. And that would explain why so many drivers sit idle for so many minutes in between trips.
Obviously, a lot of drivers, especially in large cities, know the times and places to be where they can stay busier than that. But on average, there is a lot more wait time for next trips than there should be.
The numbers Uber has given us, combined with known averages work out really well:
- 2 million drivers per day – who drive on average for 4 hours;
- there are 15 million rides each day;
- the average driver can do about 2 trips per hour;
It works out just about right. If the average driver works 4 hours per day and does about 2 trips per hour – that works out to about 7.5 trips per driver per day.
Based on the fact that these numbers work out with known averages, we believe there are about 2 million drivers worldwide and probably about half of those are in the U.S.
Some have estimated it’s closer to 3 million drivers. However, they base that estimate on the growth in the number of drivers that they assume has occurred since June 2017 when Camp let it be known that there are 2 million drivers.
But we don’t believe the growth rate in the number of drivers in the last 9-10 months has been as high as it was in the past. We believe the growth rate has slowed considerably. And with Uber continuing to lose about half its drivers every year, we think that means there has probably been little net increase in the number of drivers since last June.