Uber or drive? There’s an app for that

2017-04-21 13:57

A new app is available that compares the cost of Uber to driving yourself. Maya Fisher-French interviewed the developer

Upon returning to India after living in the UK for five years, Nishil Kohli noticed that Uber had made having a car redundant as its service is extremely cheap in India. He decided to create an app to compare – on a trip-by-trip basis – the cost benefit of Uber versus taking your own car. “After reading articles on the internet about the long-term cost of car ownership, I added more functionality to compare long-term car ownership costs.”

This is Kohli’s first Android app, which he developed just for the experience. “I have no plans to monetise the app. It is more of a personal project for me as I am learning quite a bit in the process.”

The app is available for free on Android in the Google Play store or at

It has two key functionalities. The first is to compare whether it makes financial sense to take your car or just to order an Uber. Kohli bases this purely on the current petrol price.

In South Africa, Uber is much more expensive than in India, so no distance I tested made sense to take an Uber, unless you also added in other factors such as wear and tear and parking. In Cape Town, parking is expensive, so this is a serious consideration.

The second functionality is checking whether it makes sense to even own a car. That got interesting because Kohli introduced other variables. He looks at how many kilometres you expect to travel, the current value and age of your car and applies a depreciation rate.

For example, if you own a car worth R180 000 and drive 100km per week over a year, your total cost would be R61 810. This is made up of petrol (R4 531), depreciation (R26 846), and insurance and maintenance (R30 429). This does not take interest into account. The insurance and maintenance figure may be slightly overstated if you have a motor plan, but even then, it still goes strongly in favour of Uber, which only comes in at R36 400 per year. The higher the value of the car, the more favourable Uber would be. If you are thinking of buying a car, maybe download the app first.

Maya Fisher-French
Personal finance journalist
City Press
p:0117139001  e:
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February 25 2018