Is it cheaper to use Uber and Bolt or own a car in South Africa?

Should e-hailing be considered an option over owning a car? Bolt, the e-hailing service, notes that it offers varying ride categories, including an economy category to help riders cut costs even further. A 15km trip on Bolt costs as little as R131 – and if you were travelling to work and back just twice a week, your monthly travel costs to work and back would be R2,096, it says.

Bolt said it crunched the numbers over e-hailing versus car ownership.

“Over the past few months, the petrol price has gone up, but your salary hasn’t … and making ends meet at the end of every month is more of a challenge than ever. It’s time to think about things differently – and taking a close look at your fixed costs is a good place to start.

“Take your car, for example. No matter how much – or how little – you drive it, you’re still liable for fixed costs like monthly instalments and insurance,” Bolt said.

For instance, if you drive a hatchback with a cost price of R335,000, your instalments over five years would be a little over R7,100 per month. Insurance would likely be around R1,200 per month, depending on your profile.

That’s R8,300 per month – before you’ve even put a drop of petrol in your tank, which is probably at least another R1,500 or more per month – bringing basic car ownership costs to at least R10,000, the group said.

“That’s before you’ve set money aside for servicing and other maintenance costs that may not be covered by a motor plan – if your car has one.

“Add in the stress of navigating through traffic, the mission of finding parking, and then the burden of paying for parking too, and it’s easy to see why so many people are looking for different ways to get around – and for ways to save money.”

When many office-based workers are still working at home most or all the time as a Covid-19 precaution, it may make sense to consider other ways of getting around, Bolt said.

A 20 minute, 15km trip on Bolt costs as little as R131 – and if you were travelling to work and back just twice a week, your monthly travel costs to work and back would be R2,096. “Add in a few weekend trips for shopping and leisure – roughly R2,000 to cover all bases – and you’re still sitting at less than R5,000 per month, for all your travel costs.”

Bolt noted that ‘A Women-Only’ category means that you can travel with the added reassurance of being transported by a woman driver – and if you’re travelling in a group, you can all share the costs of a van or another extra-large vehicle.

“Bolt is supported by an independent security company that can urgently help if there’s an emergency. With every tracked trip (within legislated privacy laws), you’ve got the same reassurance of an insurer’s tracking device. Someone will always know where you are in the unlikely event that something goes wrong,” it said.

Making your decision to own a car or ride-hail

Earlier in the year, insurer, 1Life crunched the numbers on whether it makes financial sense to own a car.

  • What it compared: The cost of owning a car and the cost of ride-hailing. “We used a VW Polo in our comparison, as it is one of the best sellers in South Africa. We priced UberX, Uber Go and Bolt services as these are most readily available,” the insurer said.
  • What it found: Travel around 650km a month and you can save money if you ride-hail. Travel 1,850km a month and you’re probably better off owning the car, 1Life said.
  • What the car costsFixed costs: R5,868 per month.
  • Variable cost: Petrol, which we priced using average urban fuel consumption per litre for the Polo and April 2021’s petrol price of R17.10 a litre (This has since climbed to R18.34a litre).

Car ownership versus ride-hailing

“Distance is an important factor to consider when you decide whether to ride-hail or own a car and will account for most of the cost of a ride-hailing trip,” 1Life said.


Read: These 12 popular cars in South Africa are priced under R250,000

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Is it cheaper to use Uber and Bolt or own a car in South Africa?