Uber shut down its self-driving truck platform last week but promised in an exclusive interview with FreightWaves that Uber Freight was not going anywhere. Today, the company has not only confirmed that promise, but it has doubled down on the future of Uber Freight.
Uber announced that it is spinning off Uber Freight into a separate business unit of Uber and is bringing back Lior Ron, who co-founded Otto Trucking which Uber announced it was acquiring in 2016, to lead the unit. Ron was also head of product at Google Maps prior to founding Otto.
“Over the past year, Uber Freight has become one of our fastest-growing and most promising businesses. To further enable Freight’s growth, we are setting it up to operate as an independent business unit within Uber, and more than doubling our investment going forward. Lior Ron, who helped lay the groundwork for the strong momentum we’re seeing today, will rejoin Uber to lead the team,” Uber said through a statement.
According to Bloomberg, the Otto deal never formally closed and the two companies have now reworked that deal. Bloomberg reported that Otto Trucking shareholders will receive an equity stake in Uber Freight as a standalone company, although Uber will maintain majority ownership. Previously, Otto shareholders would have received a cut of profits from Uber’s trucking business.
Ron will report directly to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
“We started Uber Freight with a mission to support the many men and women across the country who work incredibly hard to keep the economy running and improve their daily lives. I’m honored to be back working with Dara and the team to continue building and scaling a simple, fair and transparent marketplace everyone can participate in. We’ve created significant momentum over the past year, and we’re just getting started,” Ron said in a statement.
In addition to welcoming back Ron to lead the unit, Uber Freight will now act independently as a business unit with Uber, with a planned doubling of investment in Uber Freight over the next year for expansion and product development.
Since launching in May 2017, Uber Freight has grown from 3 primary regions to operations in all 48 contiguous states. It now has tripled its staff size over the last 15 months and load volume is doubling every quarter, it said.
Uber Freight has grown from a basic app that matched loads to drivers to offer more advanced and user-friendly features. These include a Fleet Mode that allows small fleet owners to better manage drivers with a single account through the app.
Earlier this year, Uber Freight launched Uber Freight Plus, which features a fuel card, maintenance and truck discounts, and even phone plan discounts.
Uber Freight Plus participants receive up to 20 cents per gallon discount off the retail price of fuel through the use of the Uber Freight Fuel Card powered by Comdata. According to the company, a typical discount for an owner-operator may be 8 cents off per gallon. The discount is available at TA/Petro Travel Stops nationwide. A smaller discount of 15 cents is available at Roadys – a collection of independent truck stops in California, Texas and Illinois.
The fuel card will include some additional benefits such as tracking IFTA and fuel reporting. It also provides access to maintenance discounts and 30% off Goodyear tires, resulting in an average of $130 off per tire.