Neolix autonomous vehicle

Uber Overcharges Riders and Volvo Invests in Emergency Mobility Services

This past week, Uber is in hot water over excessive charges, China and the Middle East team up on AV and ridehailing, and BMW names a new CEO.

This Week In Mobility― July 26, 2019

Software Glitch Charges Uber Riders 100X Their Normal Fare

Just as Uber was starting to boost their reputation, a new software glitch in the app is charging customers 100 times their normal fees.

Riders in cities like Washington, DC and San Diego were charged over $1,000 for a single Uber ride. Though Uber states they’ve “fixed” the problem, angry customers insisted that they still haven’t received credits on their bill.

The problems occurred Wednesday in the United States. It’s unclear if this affected other countries as well. Uber Eats customers were charged over $1,000 for $15 dollar meals. The latest tweetstorm stated that there was no way to get in touch with Uber to find out what was going on.

The kicker? A man in Arizona stated his wife was charged $9,672 for an Uber ride that was advertised as $96.72.



Uber is not only alienating their customers by providing subpar support, the drivers who work hard to keep customers happy are being mistreated as well. There’s no way that Uber is going to survive in the long-term if the company cannot provide customer (and driver) support for technical glitches like these.

Chinese Company Will Start AV Trials in Saudi Arabia and UAE

Autonomous car manufacturer Neolix has signed an agreement with Middle Eastern company Noon to start AV trials in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The Middle East has been lagging behind other countries because cars have to withstand heat of over 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. The agreement will help bolster China’s presence in the region.

Other Chinese companies, including Didi Chuxing, have also recently entered into partnerships in UAE to expand operations globally.

China has continued to dominate the ridehailing market and is slowly expanding into SE Asia, the Middle East, and South America. But will they be able to deliver self-driving cars that meet Middle Eastern expectations?

By partnering with large Middle Eastern investors such as Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, Neolix will be able to dominate the AV market in the Middle East.



New BMW CEO Will Help the Company Focus on AVs and Electric Cars

As luxury automakers struggle to catch up with consumer demands for electric and autonomous vehicles, BMW recently announced the appointment of a new CEO.

Oliver Zipse will replace Harald Krueger as CEO on August 15. The new CEO will be leading focusing on helping BMW develop autonomous and electric vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW’s joint ridesharing venture is still in full swing. But since Mercedes unveiled their new Power EQ all-electric vehicle in Malaysia earlier this year, BMW has countered that there is “no real demand for all-electric vehicles.”

Contrary to their own statement, BMW announced they are accelerating their electric vehicle production plans by two years. Oliver Zipse has been with the company since 1991, and he may be the person to lead the company into the future.

Didi Chuxing Announces Partnership With Middle Eastern Investors

At the same time that Neolix announced their foray into Middle Eastern AV testing, Didi Chuxing announced they are also focusing on the Middle East.

Didi has been actively raising money for the last two years, and this latest partnership includes investments from several Middle Eastern companies. Investors include Symphony Investment, and several others. It will include the countries of UAE and Saudi Arabia.

As China begins to build an empire in the Middle East, it will be harder for other companies to break into the region. With their innovations in EVs and self-driving technology, the partnership between China and MENA will only grow stronger.

Volvo Invests in Two Israeli Mobility Startups

The Volvo Car Tech Fund, which provides venture capital to companies in the mobility sector, announced it has already invested in UVeye and MDGo.

The Tel-Aviv based startups both provide medical mobility services. MDGo provides car crash data to emergency personnel so first responders can be better prepared for injuries.

UVeye has developed technology that scans the exterior of damaged cars for dents and scratches.

The amount of the investment is undisclosed, but Volvo is also planning to use UVeye tech in their manufacturing plants. This is the first time Volvo has made investments outside of the US and Europe.

As Volvo continues to invest in innovative companies like these, small startups will begin making serious money.


Time Management

10 Time Management Tips for the Busy Freelancer

There is a lot to love about working as a freelancer or independent contractor. These lucky men and women can work from home – or at the local coffee shop. They are free to set their own hours and choose their own clients.

Best of all freelancers do not have anyone looking over their shoulders. As long as the work gets done and the clients are satisfied, the process does not matter.

In some ways, however, the greatest strength of the freelance lifestyle, namely the ability to work independently, is also its greatest weakness. When you work as a freelancer, your income is a function of your productivity, and poor time management skills could take a big bite out of your bottom line. With that in mind, here are 10 of our favorite time management tips for the freelance worker.

  1. Download and use time management and productivity boosting apps. Technology can be your friend, so take advantage of the tools that are available.
  2. Recognize the limitations of your multitasking prowess. You might like to think that you are a master multitasker, but be realistic about your abilities. Sometimes it is better to focus on one task at a time.
  3. Outsource time wasting tasks. If you are in a position to do so, outsourcing routine but time-intensive tasks will allow you to use your skills in more productive ways.
  4. Turn off notifications on your smartphone during working hours. Those constant interruptions can sap your productivity and waste your time.
  5. Set a daily schedule. Flexibility is important to freelancing success, but so is structure. Think about the things you need to achieve each day, and set your schedule around those critical tasks.
  6. Take time to relax. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you are solely responsible for your income, so take a few minutes each day to relax and unwind. Go for a walk, draw a bubble bath, do some exercise or just sit and stare into space. You will feel better, and the quality of your work will benefit.
  7. Make a to-do list. When you are sitting and relaxing in the evening, take a few minutes to build a to-do list for the following day. This simple task will bring added structure to your endeavors and help you get more done.
  8. Track your time. If you are trying to improve your time management skills, start by creating a baseline. Tracking your time on common tasks will give you a place to start – and a goal to work toward.
  9. Block out distractions. It is easy to get distracted, especially when you are working from home. Do not be afraid to close the door and block out those distractions.
  10. Learn to say no. Wasting time on unreasonable requests and outsized expectations is bad for your freelance career – and your self-esteem. Learning how to say no is a key time management skill every freelancer should learn.

Life as a freelancer can be great, especially if you value your freedom and flexibility. The chance to make a living on your own terms is certainly attractive, and with the right time management skills you can take charge of your life and supercharge your earning power. The 10 time management tips listed above can get you started, so you can enhance your productivity and wow your clients.



Aptiv & Lyft Partner Up During NFB Conference, Florida Courts AV Industry Leaders

This past week, Go-Jek gains more big-name investors, CommonSense Robotics takes a gamble on grocery delivery, and the debate rages on regarding gig worker rights in California.

This Week In Mobility― July 19, 2019

CommonSense Robotics Builds “the World’s First Underground Automated Warehouse”

Logistics startup CommonSense Robotics wants to help small grocers get into the grocery delivery game. That’s why the Google-backed startup is building a small warehouse inside a Tel Aviv parking garage.

CommonSense plans on utilizing small spaces such as vacant parking lots and abandoned storefronts to create urban grocery delivery hubs. Grocers can expand operations without investing in additional staff or costly real estate in urban areas.

Now that grocery customers are starting to use delivery services, this will give smaller companies the same advantage as retailers like Target and Walmart. Innovation like gives small urban grocers the ability to keep up with changing customer preferences.

But can small grocers afford it? According to the latest stats by, grocery stores average less than a 5% net profit.

Shopping as we know it is changing. Any small grocery store that wants to remain in business should invest in this type of service. Target and Walmart are growing because of innovations like these.


Florida Wants to Become a New Hub for Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Testing

The Automated Vehicle Symposium ended yesterday in Orlando, giving area leaders the opportunity to show off progress on the SuntraxFL driverless car testing facility.

SuntraxFL is situated in Central Florida off the I-4 corridor and is expected to be completed next year.

Florida made headlines last month when Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to allow autonomous vehicles to operate in the state without a human backup driver. Prior Florida legislation required safety drivers to be present in the vehicle at all times.

As of July 1, 100% driverless cars are free to operate in Florida as long as the vehicle meets safety and insurance requirements outlined by the new bill.

It’s too early to know for sure who’s interested in getting in on the ground floor of this new testing facility or when it will be ready.

Tensions Rise as California Heard Arguments to Treat Uber, Lyft Drivers as Employees

The California legislature is still debating a bill to treat gig workers (like Uber and Lyft drivers) as employees instead of independent contractors.

Neither Uber nor Lyft hires drivers as part-time employees. This means drivers are ineligible for perks like overtime pay and health benefits.

A recent LA Times article stated both Uber and Lyft drivers were offered $25-100 to lobby against the proposed California legislation at a state senate hearing earlier this month. The pay was offered in the form of a driver credit from the I’m Independent Coalition. The group is funded by several organizations, including on-demand companies that would be negatively affected by the passing of California’s Assembly Bill 5.

As of Thursday, the bill has not been approved by the California State Senate.

While California has seemed to side with gig workers since the infamous Dynamex lawsuit decision last year, companies who would be negatively affected have done a good job of rallying support for their side of the argument as well. The bill has made it through the first hurdle by passing the California Assembly, now it’s up to the Senate and Governor to move it forward.

Aptiv Unveils Tactile Maps and More During NFB Conference

Vision-impaired Lyft riders got a chance to experience tactile maps and more in Las Vegas last week during the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) Annual Conference.

Driverless car manufacturer Aptiv teamed up with Lyft and the NFB to give rides to conference-goers. These AV rides included descriptions of driverless car technology in braille, as well as tactile maps of the area.

By demonstrating driverless car technology to customers who rely on others to drive them around, Aptiv and Lyft are preparing riders for the future of mobility.

Look Out, Didi Chuxing! Here Comes Go-Jek

Go-Jek’s current phase of its Series F round has secured investments from three divisions of Mitsubishi and Visa.

Mitsubishi has been investing heavily in the Indonesian-based company this year. The first phase of Go-Jek’s Series F closed on February 1 after raising $1 billion from Mitsubishi, Google, and Tencent Partners.

Though the investment amounts have yet to be disclosed, Go-Jek is already a dominant player in Asia. The company provides similar services to Didi Chuxing including food delivery, mobile payments, local delivery and more.

Will Go-Jek give Didi Chuxing a run for its money? With Go-Jek’s focus on expanding operations internationally and recent cash injections, they may overtake them in the near future.

Uber Comfort Guide

Uber Comfort – Quick Guide For Riders And Drivers (Vehicle Requirements)

For the past few months, Uber has been testing a new offering called Uber Comfort in markets such as Arizona and New Jersey. While there were some issues with the rollout (Uber didn’t tell all the eligible drivers in the pilot area that they were launching a new service), it has proved a popular addition, especially for airport rides.

Now, Uber has expanded the Comfort option to 45 cities, offering riders willing to pay a bit more (~30%), an upgrade over a regular Uber X ride.

What Is Uber Comfort?

Uber Comfort offers newer model (2014 or later), mid-size cars with extra legroom, and the ability to tell the driver your ride preferences in advance.

If you order an Uber Comfort ride, your vehicle will be no more than five years old, and will feature minimum legroom requirements.

Your Uber Comfort driver will have a minimum rating of 4.85 with at least 250 rides given.

On top of that, when you request an Uber Comfort ride, you can tell the driver in advance whether you want to chat or not, and what temperature you want the vehicle to be.

Uber Comfort Ride Preferences


Uber started offering these preferences on Uber Black rides previously, and has imported them to the Comfort offering.

The big plus with Comfort is the newer model vehicles and guaranteed legroom, at a lower price point than Uber Black, and usually Uber Select.

Uber Comfort Features

  • Newer cars (2014 or later).
  • Driver rated 4.85 or higher with a minimum of 250 rides given.
  • Extra legroom.
  • Rider preferences for conversation and temperature.

How Does Uber Comfort Differ From Uber Select and Uber Black?

Uber Select Features

  • Newish cars (2010 or later).
  • No minimum driver rating requirement.
  • No rider preferences.

Uber Select offers higher end luxury vehicles (2010 or newer), but no rider preferences. Most Uber Select vehicles will have additional legroom, but can be significantly older than Uber Comfort cars.

Uber Black Features

  • Newer cars (2014 or later).
  • Commercially insured driver rated 4.85 or higher.
  • Vehicle must be black, with leather, and in tip-top condition without cosmetic damage.
  • Rider preferences for conversation, temperature, and baggage.

Uber Black offers high end luxury vehicles no more than five years old, with a licensed commercial livery driver, and additional rider preferences. While you can let a driver know your temperature and conversation wishes with Uber Comfort, with Uber Black, you can also let your driver know if you have bags that you’ll need help with. Uber Black vehicles also must have leather and a black exterior.

It does seem that the addition of  Uber Comfort could eat in to the Uber Select market, or even replace it altogether at some point.

After all, why would you use choose Uber Select, a service with weaker vehicle and driver requirements, when Uber Comfort seems to be a cheaper and better option. Don’t be surprised if Uber phases out Uber Select in favor of Comfort over the coming year.

Does My Vehicle Qualify For Uber Comfort?

If you drive for Uber in a city that offers Uber Comfort, have given more than 250 rides with a 4.85 or higher rating, and have a vehicle that is a 2014 model or newer, it may qualify.

Here is the current list of vehicles that qualify for Uber Comfort (2014 models or newer unless specified):

  • Acura – MDX, RDX, RLX, TLX, ZDX
  • Audi – A6, A7, A8, A8 L, Q5, Q7, S7, S8, SQ5
  • Bentley – SQ5, Flying Spur
  • BMW – 5-series, 5-series 530e, 5-series Gran Turismo, 7-series, ActiveHybrid 7, Alpina B7, M5, X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6
  • Buick – Enclave, LaCrosse, Regal
  • Cadillac – CT6, CTS, DTS, Escalade (ESV & EXT also), SRX, XT5, XTS
  • Chevrolet – Equinox (2016), Impala (2016), Suburban, Tahoe, Trailblazer (2016), Traverse (2016)
  • Chrysler – 300, Aspen, Pacifica (2017, Town and Country
  • Dodge – Caravan (2017), Durango (2016), Grand Caravan (2017)
  • Ford – Edge (2016), Escape (2017), Excursion (2016), Expedition, Explorer (2016), F-150 (2016), Flex (2016)
  • Genesis – G70 (2016), G80 (2016), G90 (2016)
  • GMC – Acadia (2016), Acadia Denali (2016), Envoy (2016), Suburban, Terrain (2016), Yukon, Yukon Denali, Yukon XL, Yukon XL Denali
  • Honda – Accord (2016), CR-V (2017), Odyssey (2017), Pilot (2016)
  • Hyundai – Equus (2016), Genesis (2016), Santa Fe (2016), Santa Fe Sport (2016), Tucson (2016), Veracruz (2016)
  • Infiniti – Q60, Q70, QX50, QX56, QX60, QX70, QX80
  • Jaguar – XF, XJ, XJR
  • Jeep – Cherokee (2016), Compass (2016), Commander (2016), Grand Cherokee (2016), Wrangler (2016)
  • Kia – Borrego (2016), Sorento (2016), Soul (2016)
  • Land Rover – Discovery, LR3, LR4, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport
  • Lexus – GS, GX, LS, LX, NX, RX
  • Lincoln – Aviator, Continental, MKC, MKS, MKT, MKX, MKZ, Nautilus, Navigator, Town Car
  • Mazda – CX-7 (2016), CX-9 (2016), Mazda 5 (2016)
  • Mercedes-Benz – GLC, ML, R, E Class, G Class, GL Class, GLA, GLE, GLK, GLS, M Class, Metris, S Class
  • Mitsubishi – Montero (2016), Outlander (2016), Outlander Sport (2016)
  • Nissan – Armada (2016), Murano (2016), Pathfinder (2016), Quest (2017), Rogue (2017)
  • Porsche – Cayenne
  • Subaru – Ascent (2016), Forrester (2017), Legacy (2016), Outback (2016)
  • Tesla – Model 3, Model S, Model X
  • Toyota – 4Runner (2016), Camry (2016), Highlander (2016), Land Cruiser (2016), RAV4 (2017), Sequoia (2016), Sienna (2017)
  • Volkswagen – Atlas, Tiguan, Touareg
  • Volvo – S90, XC40, XC60, XC90


Will Drivers Make More From Giving Uber Comfort Rides?

So, Uber Comfort costs the rider a bit more, but will Uber drivers see any of the extra fare?

Possibly, but probably not much more.

Drivers on an Uber Comfort ride will be paid a higher per minute wait time. For example, in Chicago, the per minute wait time for Uber Comfort is $0.43/minute vs. Uber X at $0.27/minute. However, the per mile and per minute rates for Uber X and Uber Comfort are almost identical.

  • Uber Comfort (Chicago)
  • Per Mile – $0.6696
  • Per Minute – $0.2664
  • Per Minute Wait Time – $0.432
  • Uber X (Chicago)
  • Per Mile – $0.648
  • Per Minute – $0.224
  • Per Minute Wait Time – $0.272

Where Is Uber Comfort Available?

Uber Comfort is currently available in the following markets:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Charleston
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Connecticut
  • Dallas
  • Fresno
  • Hampton Roads
  • Houston
  • Honolulu
  • Indianapolis
  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Madison
  • Memphis
  • Milwaukee
  • Nashville
  • New Jersey
  • New Orleans
  • Omaha
  • Orange County
  • Ottawa
  • Palm Springs
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Rhode Island
  • Richmond
  • Sacramento
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Tampa Bay
  • Tucson
  • Wichita
  • Washington D.C.

Should you sign up to drive for Uber with an Uber Comfort Vehicle?

It depends.

If you already have a vehicle that qualifies for Uber Comfort, it may make sense to sign up. Additionally, if you already have a 2014 or newer Uber Select vehicle, it probably also qualifies for Uber Comfort.

Otherwise, you’re better off purchasing a vehicle that qualifies for both Uber Select and Uber Comfort, because Uber Select pays significantly more than Uber comfort. Additionally, a car that qualifies for Comfort and Select, may also qualify for Lyft Lux.

We do not recommend buying a vehicle just based on the fact that it qualifies for Uber Comfort. While you get a higher per minute wait time vs. Uber X, the per mile and per minute rates are almost identical, even though riders get charged around 30% more.

For more information on vehicle requirements for other Uber services such as X, XL, Uber Select and Uber Black, be sure to check out our Uber Vehicle Requirements page.


Uber Expands Uber Comfort, Waymo to Participate in New AV Pilot Program

This week, Softbank injects $250 million into Ola Electric, Waymo will begin participating in California’s EV Pilot Program, and Uber Comfort gives special attention to customers at a lower price point than Uber Black.

Uber Unveils New Level of Service

Some Uber riders have long complained about not having enough legroom during their rides or drivers who want to talk during the entire trip.

In response to these egregious offenses, Uber recently launched a new service tier called Uber Comfort. Pricing falls just below Uber Black, their flagship service tier.

Features of Uber Comfort rides include more legroom and “Quiet Mode,” which allows riders to request a silent ride. Riders can also request specific temperature settings within the app. Drivers will set the temperature prior to picking riders up, so it’s not too hot or cold.

Uber Comfort drivers are required to have a rating of 4.85 or higher and a late-model, midsize sedan to participate.

Uber Comfort is now available in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Connecticut, Dallas, Fresno, Hampton Roads, Houston, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New Orleans, Omaha, Orange County, Ottawa, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Rhode Island, Richmond, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tucson, Wichita, and Washington D.C.

How well will the service do? With a lower price point than Uber Black but higher than the popular Uber X service, it’s too early to tell.

Softbank Injects $250M Into Ola Electric

After the Indian Government ordered both Ola and Uber to convert 40% of its fleet to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2026, Ola Electric has been working hard to beef up its program.

Ola Electric’s latest Series B financing round led by Softbank included a $250-million investment in the company.

Ola Electric has already been working on electric vehicles for years. This latest cash infusion will allow them to put 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of this year. They plan to put a million similar vehicles on the road in the “coming” years.

Ride-sharing giant Ola, the parent company of Ola Electric, recently partnered with EV manufacturers to meet Ola Electric’s government mandate.

With this recent investment by Softbank, as well as a $300-million investment from Hyundai and Kia into parent company Ola, Ola Electric will continue to dominate India’s ride-hailing market and make a significant impact on carbon emissions at the same time.

California Permits Waymo to Participate in AV Pilot Program

Autonomous vehicle operator Waymo recently received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to participate in their AV Passenger Service Pilot.

The program allows Waymo to operate AV services in specific areas of California with a safety driver in the car.

Four companies have received permits, including Zoox,, Autox, and Waymo. The companies are not allowed to be paid for rides.

The government program was passed in California last year and includes two programs: one with a safety driver and one without. So far, no permits have been issued for the driverless portion of the program.

Waymo is already a leader in AV programs after opening the first commercial autonomous car service in Phoenix, Arizona.

Though the company can’t yet charge for rides, participating in a government pilot program in Arizona was how they found their first riders for the Waymo One service. They are quickly on their way to becoming the Uber of AV programs.

Indian Government Provides Tax Incentives to EV Buyers

India is getting serious about reducing emissions.

In addition to requiring Uber and Ola to convert 40% of their fleet to EVs by 2026, the Indian government announced a tax rebate for electric vehicle buyers.

The rebate will provide ₹1.5 lakh (about $2,000 in USD) to any driver that purchases an electric vehicle in the country.

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the government’s intention to develop a local manufacturing hub for EV parts in the country.

With a population of over one billion, it’s wonderful to see India taking steps to help reduce the amount of pollution created by the country’s drivers. By encouraging drivers to take advantage of the tax rebate, they are well on their way to helping the world become a greener place.

Food Delivery Apps Will Have 38M Users by Next Year

According to the data scientists at eMarketer, food delivery services will have approximately 38 million users in the US by the end of the year. This is a 21.8% jump over 2018’s numbers.

DoorDash (27.6%) and Grubhub (26.7%) continue to dominate the market, with a relatively new player on the scene, Caviar, appearing in the bottom slot with 2.7% of market share.

As the number of smartphone users increases, eMarketer estimates 60 million smartphone users will order food delivery at least once a month.

With the rise of “ghost kitchens” being used for food delivery, the industry could well surpass expectations. As with ride-hailing platforms, services like these continue to help reduce carbon emissions in the United States and beyond.


used car buying tips

How to Make Sure a Used Car is Worth Buying

You must be on your guard if you’re thinking of buying a used car. People often sell second-hand vehicles because they aren’t in good working order, and you don’t want to waste your money on a duff automobile. Here’s how to ensure you don’t make a mistake.

Check under the hood

Serious trouble may dwell under the hood, so check there first. You might spot a little grime and oil, but too much dirt can indicate the car hasn’t been well-maintained. Damp and a greasy residue, for instance, may be signs of a coolant, engine, or transmission leakage.

Note whether anything’s broken or out of place. Belts and hoses shouldn’t be cracked and battery terminals should not show signs of corrosion or leakage. If the battery is properly charged, it should show 12.45 volts or more when checked with a digital multimeter.

Look at the air filter too and make sure it’s clean and check the color of the oil on the dipstick. It shouldn’t be milky or black.


Most cars need their belts and hoses replaced after about 80,000 miles, so consider them when viewing the mileage. When you look at the odometer, ensure the numbers are in line. If they aren’t, someone might have changed them.

Also, does the condition of the car match the mileage shown? A well-worn interior, yet low mileage could signal foul play. You should expect the interior to look fairly new if the miles traveled are accurate.

General checks

Other functions to check include signal lights, headlights, and brake lights. At the same time, try the wipers, horn, and washers to see that they work properly.

Inspect the car fluids to check they are full and haven’t leaked, and inspect the tires for wear. If they don’t have good tread, they’ll need replacing and you must take this into account when deciding whether the price of the vehicle is fair.

Vehicle body

Bubbling beneath the paintwork on the car exterior and signs of rust are bad news. Surface blisters aren’t terrible, but corrosion within the bumpers, panels, doors and wheel arches is a cause for concern.

Note paintwork discoloration and ripples as you examine the car. They could indicate damage that’s been covered. Look at the sunroof, window seals, and beneath carpets for signs of leaks too.

Take a test drive

If you’re insured to drive the vehicle, take a multifaceted route that includes busy roads and quiet lanes so you can experience driving in varied conditions.

Note odd noises. Rattles and bangs when you switch on the ignition are questionable. Also, is the steering smooth? Is the engine’s temperature normal and do the breaks function properly?

Before you make an offer

Check the vehicle registration documents to ensure they are in order. The service receipt data, for example, should match the mileage you noted earlier.

If the paperwork is accurate, you enjoy driving the car, and it’s worth more than the cost of fixing up your current vehicle, if you have one, make an offer corresponding with the used car’s going rate.

Buying a used car isn’t easy unless you recognize what to look for and the right questions to ask. Note the tips mentioned and you’ll know whether a vehicle’s worth buying or it’s time to move on and look elsewhere.


airbnb design tips

Styling an Airbnb Property to Maximise Returns

Just over a decade ago, simply offering an extra room in a major city for less than the cost of a hotel was all you needed to do to attract interested Airbnb customers. The vacation rental market has since exploded. Today, hundreds of rental properties are available for both short- and long-term rental in just about every corner of the world.

For those seeking long-term lodging, this means more choices and incredible value in many cases. For those renting Airbnb properties, it means higher expectations and more competition. Here are some ways that you can use style and décor to maximise your investment at your Airbnb property.

Play To Your Strengths

Not every Airbnb property can serve every traveller’s needs. As a property owner, you’ll want to think about your ideal customer. Is your property perfect for a retired couple looking for an extended vacation? Are you equipped to serve families with children that may need to stay a month or two? Or are you ideally located for travelling business professionals looking for a temporary residence and working space?

Once you know who would love to stay at your property, style the place and beef up your offerings to serve that audience. For example, if you decide you have the perfect spot for families who need to relocate to your area for a few months, be sure you have child-friendly and durable furniture as well as a well-stocked kitchen for meal preparation. Offer comfortable lighting for family space and quality window coverings in the bedrooms. Invest in some extras like play pens, electronic entertainment or high chairs.

On the other hand, if you want to grab the attention of business travellers, be sure you have reliable, fast WiFi connections, ergonomically correct furniture, and common office equipment such as a printer, scanner or fax machine. You’ll want lighting that is ideal for working extra hours as well.

Select Unique But Tasteful Decor

Airbnb décor can always be a bit challenging because everyone has a different opinion of what is beautiful, comfortable or attractive. Pick a theme that either corresponds to the tastes of a large portion of your target audience or select something that’s unique to your local geographic area, culture or region.

Try to select furniture, artwork and other décor that complements your overall look. It may be worth the investment to talk with a professional interior decorator, a property management company, or at least a friend who had a natural flair for style and décor.

Choose Quality, Durable Furniture

Remember that as a property owner, you’ll be hosting different people over a long period of time. Although long-term Airbnb customers are probably not as hard on your furniture as a rotating number of weekend travellers, you’ll still want to invest in high quality, durable furniture to withstand high usage and still look attractive and relatively new over time.

Invest in the most important pieces including quality, comfortable beds, sofas and reclining chairs. A sturdy dining room set with easy-to-clean chairs would be a worthy investment as well.

Opt for Common Kitchen Appliances

For those guests seeking long-term Airbnb rentals, you’ll want to have a well-stocked kitchen. Be sure you invest in quality appliances that are easy-to-use and clean. You don’t have to have many obscure kitchen gadgets but make sure you have plenty of commonly used items such as a coffee maker, microwave and an assortment of dishes, pots and pans, cutting boards, and utensils.

Skip The Blinds

The windows of an Airbnb property offer a great area to spruce up. Heavy curtains can add a great deal of warmth to a room, both in terms of appearance and temperature control.

You may want to consider investing in room-darkening window coverings or blackout curtains in the bedrooms to help ensure a great night’s sleep for your guests anytime they want to sleep.

An extra layer of sheer curtains can be a nice touch when customers would like natural light and privacy at the same time.

Incorporate Fabulous Lighting Options Throughout

Light has a wonderful way of changing the entire mood of a property, individual room or even marketing photography on your listing. Select your room lighting carefully.

Lights that hang from the ceiling can add a customized look for any room, often becoming a centerpiece. Simple warm table lamps can add much to the ambiance of any space. Consider well-lit desk spaces if you offer a work area as well. A reading lamp near beds is a welcome addition for those who enjoy a good book before bed.

Be sure to utilize those lights when you’re taking your photos for your Airbnb listing. A professional photographer can help you position lights to make your property the most attractive online.

Don’t Forget The Details

Although having the right large pieces of furniture, lighting, flooring and window dressings are all important, don’t forget the small touches that will make your place unique and cozy.

Fresh flowers and plants, although they require some care, are well worth the investment. Place them near natural light sources and scatter vases with fresh flowers throughout the home for great photo opportunities. Even if your guests do not want to keep them long-term, they certainly make a great welcoming gesture at the very least.

Incorporate tasteful décor in candles, knick-knacks, paintings and artwork to make a house feel more like a classy home.


Enhance Room Through Color Choices

Minimize the number of your stark white walls. Instead, use colors to enhance the feeling of particular spaces at the property. For example, warm paint colors can make a room particularly inviting or a dark color scheme can add coziness to a small nook area for private conversations, quiet reading or a cat nap. Consider painting the ceiling to change the ambiance of the room even more.


Select Flooring Options Fit For Each Space

Thick, lush carpet may be a great option for bedrooms, which don’t see as much traffic in a long-term rental as many areas. It can add warmth as well as sound insulation, both welcomed properties in a bedroom.

Hardwood floors or faux hardwood floors are classic, attractive and relatively easy to clean and maintain in main living areas. You can add a touch of style in a particular room with an area rug that complements the design of the room.

Durable, easy-to-clean tile may be the best choice for kitchen and dining areas as well as bathrooms. Many inexpensive yet durable tiles are available if you can’t afford ceramic options.


Get Professional Assistance

Many Airbnb property management companies, Airbnb itself, and independent designers and consultants can offer a helping hand when it comes to styling your Airbnb for maximum profit. Look into the services they offer and consider the return on your investment. It may be worth hiring a professional who can help make the large and small decisions to help you property be as appealing and as attractive as possible for potential customers.

By following these suggestions, you can style your Airbnb property to compete successfully against others in your market.


uber lyft july 4th

Driver Pro Tips: Driving For Uber And Lyft Around July 4th

Driving Uber or Lyft around the Independence Day holiday tends to be fairly lucrative. After all, the 4th of July is usually one of the better Uber or Lyft earning days of the year. However, don’t go out driving expecting New Year’s Eve type numbers.

Also, on the evening of the fourth, if your city has a big fireworks display downtown, be careful not to get caught in a massive traffic jam at the end. When events like those end, everyone leaves at once. This means there may be a substantial surge. However, if possible, try and meet the passenger at a point where you’ll be able to avoid the worst bottlenecks. That way you can maximize any surge. For really large 4th of July events, Uber and Lyft sometimes designate pickup and drop off points to make things easier.

Here’s what else to expect, and how to have a successful 4th of July if you choose to drive Uber or Lyft this holiday.

Drive Prepared – What To Have In Your Car

It’s pretty likely at least some of your pickups are going to be bringing food or drink to a friend’s house. After all, it’s the biggest barbecue day of the year. So, consider putting the following items in the car:

  • A beach or bath towel
  • Plastic bags
  • Clorox wipes
  • Paper towels

The above items are to help protect your vehicle. If someone has a hot dish, put a towel underneath it. The remaining items are just in case anything spills. Usually, nothing of this nature happens. But if it does, you’ll be really happy you have the above items close by. Again, it’s unlikely you’ll need the items above, but if you have them, you’ll be able to clean anything up, and get back on the road making money faster.

What To Expect – July 3rd

The day before the 4th should be steady, and should get busier as the day goes on. The morning rush hour won’t be super busy, as a lot of people tend to take the 3rd off. However, you should expect a good number of airport rides as people start leaving town.

Also, a fair number of Independence Day ceremonies often actually take place on the 3rd, so people will be going to those. It’s a good idea to google “4th of July events near me” to get an idea of where the largest events will be happening and at what times. Event times will usually be scattered throughout the day on the 3rd or the 4th. You can use these events to plan your driving schedule if you wish.

On the 3rd, the afternoon rush hour will likely start earlier than usual. People who go to work on the 3rd of July tend to duck out as early as they can. Expect things to start getting busier as the afternoon goes on. The evening should be very busy most places. People who stayed in town will likely be going out, as they many don’t have to go to work the next day.

Most places, the evening before the 4th of July will be similar to a Friday evening. People will be going to dinner, and then to bars later. Because of this, many veteran drivers actually skip driving in the morning on July 3rd. Instead, many will start around 2pm – 3pm and drive until the bars close.

What To Expect – July 4th

uber lyft july 4th

On Independence Day, expect to be driving people to their friends houses for barbecues. In the late morning, you may get a number of last minute supermarket runs. That’s when people usually realize they’re missing a key ingredient.

While there will be big events on the 3rd, most of the big ceremonies will likely be on July 4th. People going to these events often come in from the suburbs. If you know where the events are, and what time they start and end (check Google), you’ll know where to position yourself to catch the long rides to the suburbs and back. In downtown areas, parking is always a problem, and even more so when there are big events going on, so a lot of people will be requesting Lyft and Uber. These are likely to be the only long rides you get over the July 4th holiday. Instead, expect a bunch of quick hops that you’ll be able to get through efficiently because traffic will be relatively light.

If it’s a busy July 4th, you should see some a fair number of surges in the suburbs and the city. As always though, don’t chase the surge.

If you plan on driving Uber or Lyft all day on July 4th, a good strategy is to start around 10am – 11am, drive through the late afternoon, and then take a break for an hour or two. Then, go out again around 5pm – 6pm and drive until you feel like stopping or it stops being busy.

Overall, expect July 4th earnings to be comparable to a very busy weekend day. Traffic should be relatively light, and get busier in the later evening. As July 5th is a weekday, things will tend to quiet down after the evening fireworks are over. However, July 5th is also a Friday, so expect some people to stay out late on the 4th and just take the 5th off if they can.

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One Final Tip

People tend to drink a lot on the 4th. Unfortunately, some people are going to drink and then get in the driver’s seat. So, it’s important to scan the road ahead, and to always drive defensively.

Have a happy, safe and fun 4th of July holiday. And as always, drive profitably!