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Uber, the well known ride sharing company formally joined the Kenyan market 3 years ago, where they initially started with their budget option uberX.

Since then, they have grown to have 5000 driver partners in Nairobi alone and presence in two other towns in Kenya (Nairobi and Thika). This has not been easy ride for Uber, as we have seen reports of Uber drivers striking multiple times due to price cuts and the Uber drivers being targeted in attacks.

However, for over 2 years, we were used to the uberX as being the only option, until late last year when they launched uberSELECT. 

uberSELECT is similar to uberX, but the difference is the fact that you have the choice to get higher rated drivers. This year, only a few months after they launched uberSELECT, Uber decided to launch another option to the Kenyan market, which they named it uberCHAPCHAP!

The first question that comes to mind is why did Uber decide to launch uberCHAPCHAP to the Kenyan market. uberX was the budget option and uberSELECT was the slightly more expensive option for users. So what is the deal with uberCHAPCHAP?

“With the launch of uberCHAPCHAP, some of our driver partners will now be business owners and own brand new vehicles which are fuel efficient,” said Uber spokesperson in a statement. “So the deal with uberCHAPCHAP is that you will use brand new cars that are fuel efficient, which can be beneficial to driver partners due to the lower costs.”

suzuki alto uberchapchap
Suzuki Alto 800 (via Wikipedia)

Uber has a specific model at the moment which they will be using on UberCHAPCHAP, the Suzuki Alto 800. You can infer from the name, it has a 800cc engine and by doing a simple Google Search, it was designed to have a very low fuel consumption, apparently 37km/L according to Suzuki, which is ridiculously good.

On the drivers side, Uber has an interesting arrangement with driver partners to be considered for UberCHAPCHAP. “uberCHAPCHAP will be accessible to selected driver partners who got access to vehicles through our vehicle solutions programme which we have partnered with Stanbic back in September 2017.”

Uber also met the potential driver partners for training before launch. “Before the launch of uberCHAPCHAP, we saw the qualifying driver-partners who would be on uberCHAPCHAP to go through the plan, and educated them on how the new product with work. We also held Q&A sessions where these drivers provide their feedback on any issues and concerns.” Not forgetting the current driver partners, Uber says that they informed them that they were going to introduce uberCHAPCHAP.

Availability was the other interesting aspect about uberCHAPCHAP. “At the moment, uberCHAPCHAP is only available in Nairobi’s CBD and immediate environs,” they said.

uberchapchap nairobi map

Initially, Uber displayed a vague map of Nairobi showing where they would offer uberCHAPCHAP. They later on clarified the locations that are served by the new service. “We have designed it to operate within Nairobi’s CBD and its environs,” they said. “These includes parts of the following areas: Parklands, Westlands, Kileleshwa, Arboretum, Hurlingham, Ngumo, Nyayo Highrise, Ngara and Nairobi West.

The price is also an interesting point of differentiation for uberCHAPCHAP. The base fare is KES 80, per kilometer fare is KES 16 and per minute fare is KES 4. The minimum fare is KES 100 and if you cancel the trip, the fee is KES 100. The table below shows how it compares with uberSELECT and uberX.

ServiceBase Fare (KES)Per km (KES)Per min (KES)Minimum fare (KES)Cancellation fee (KES)
uberCHAPCHAP80164100100
uberSELECT100434300200
uberX85274150150

When compared to the other offerings, uberCHAPCHAP is significantly cheaper than uberX and uberSELECT. If you decided to use Uber’s fare estimate tool, if you would like to know how much it would cost to commute from Yaya Centre to KICC, it would cost around KES 191-226 on uberX, KES 300-359 on uberSELECT and KES 161-188 on uberCHAPCHAP.

This could be reason why they are using cars with very low consumption and the fact that they mentioned that this was a test that was limited to a very small section in Nairobi.

If this is successful, it will be opened up to more areas. “At the moment, uberCHAPCHAP is only available in the CBD and its immediate environs. Once we have tried and tested uberCHAPCHAP, we will make the product available in the whole of Nairobi and to all riders in Nairobi when possible.”

uberCHAPCHAP seems like a brilliant way to offer users commuting prices that are even lower than before as well as appeasing driver partners by making sure they have cars that use very little fuel to keep costs down, which seems like a win win situation.

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