- The newly formed business-management platform CloudTrucks has teamed up with Uber Freight and Ryder System's rental arm, Coop, to help Uber drivers "break into the freight industry and keep essential goods moving across the country," CloudTrucks announced Tuesday.
- "Uber Freight has found that many rideshare drivers on the Uber platform have valid CDLs and would like to return to or join the trucking industry," an Uber Freight spokesperson told Transport Dive in an email.
- Through the partnership, CDL holders who drive for Uber's flagship service can become leased-on drivers with CloudTrucks, according to the announcement. Drivers would have access to the CloudTrucks app, which searches and books loads from freight brokers, including Uber Freight. Drivers who don't have equipment can lease a tractor and trailer from Coop; CloudTrucks would handle the deposit.
The partnership was piloted over three weeks, and the program has garnered "very strong interest from an initial cohort of drivers," CloudTrucks founder and CEO Tobenna Arodiogbu tweeted Tuesday. The goal, he said, was to give drivers another way to earn money. But drivers, for Uber or otherwise, who enter the open market now face challenging conditions.
The combination of closed businesses and abnormal consumer-spending patterns has tightened the market, as carriers compete for limited loads. Demand for trucking sank in April. DAT's load-to-truck ratio was down year over year for vans, reefers and flatbeds. DAT also noted spot rates fell in April across trucking modes, with van rates down 9% YoY and flatbed down 17%.
California Trucking Association President Greg Dubuque witnessed prices drop by more than 50% in the open market, he told Transport Dive. "There's thousands of trucks here in California," and some businesses won't make it through the pandemic, he said.
Low rates have spurred some carriers to protest. In Washington, D.C., truckers sounded their horns in protest of low rates. Similar rallies occurred in the Southwest and the Northeast. WTNH reported a rally at the New Hampshire State Capitol May 2, aimed at brokers. Some carriers claim brokers have benefit from the pandemic, instituting high profit margins and gouging prices.
Uber Freight has brokered the movement of critical supplies for zero profit as part of its COVID-19 efforts. According to its Q1 2020 earnings report, the company has handled more than 10,000 loads at cost, and will continue to do so until the FMCSA's HOS exemptions are lifted. Thus far in 2020, Uber Freight's gross bookings increased 55%, while adjusted net revenue increased 57%, compared to the same period last year.
The company addresses transparency upfront on its website, touting "clear, upfront pricing and unrivaled visibility." CloudTrucks, which launched at the end of January, said its app can connect users with "major brokers" from across the country, allowing drivers to manage and book loads, and access free instant payment and other features from CloudTrucks, on the platform.
"Our objective at Uber Freight is to support all truck drivers whether they are industry veterans or just starting out," Laurent Hautefeuille, head of business development and strategy and planning at Uber Freight, said in the announcement, " and we hope this partnership ... will open up more opportunities for those already on the Uber platform."