UberX Lagos

Now I know why the Uber Lagos team was awake all night. Uber has just deployed uberX, the low cost Uber option in Lagos, after five months of launching with the higher end Uber Black service in July, the company said in an email to users.

What does this mean? Well for one, it should mean that Uber-ing in Lagos should become cheaper. The company says uberX is “a ride that is so fast, so reliable, and so affordable that the need for car ownership in Eko will soon become a thing of the past”.

This definitely means more Ubers in Lagos. I’ve ridden in Ubers so much that I have cycled through most of the drivers, and I don’t imagine that before now there could be more than twenty of them working between Lagos Island and the Mainland up to Ikeja. If they intend to live up to their promise of fast and reliable cab services in Lagos, I imagine they must have signed up quite a few more drivers and taxi associations to meet the demand.

uber black

But does it mean cheaper Uber rides? That remains to be seen. What is sure however is that the price of UberBlack will go UP, by 35 percent. Before now, you could either get a petite Toyota Rav 4, or a roaring huge Nissan Titan. But from now, it’s likely that the really posh cars will be reserved for the UberBlack category, and the smaller SUVs and sedans relegated to uberX. The introduction of uberX might just be the excuse to get people to pay more to enjoy a nicer option.

We have reached out to the local Uber team for comment.

Update: the app now shows new pricing information for both categories. uberX has a base fare and minimum fare of N500, plus N110 per kilomenter and N10 for every minute spent in the vehicle. This used to be the old Uber black, except that it was N125 per kilometre. The new UberBlack now has a base fare of N500, a minimum fare of N800, N155 per kilometre, and N15 for every minute spent in the vehicle.

What effect will this have on competing services in Lagos? Well they can’t be too happy, that’s to be sure. Already, prolific partnerships with local events and destinations as well as corporate brands, banks, and financial services are helping Uber acquire users. Every week, there is a new Uber code to be used to ride to Afropolitan Vibes, or cruise to some uptown fashion shindig.

For now local incumbents Taxipixi (formerly Tranzit) and Rocket Internet backed Easy Taxi are still in the running. And while there will definitely be more Ubers in Lagos before long, they aren’t being seriously getting undercut on price…yet. Each step Uber takes in Lagos is cause for concern, and they can only hope to grab enough marketshare that the 40 billion dollar transport gorilla that has come to live in their backyard does not suddenly gobble it all up in one mouthful.

Bankole Oluwafemi Author

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