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Uber wants more drivers and this is what it’s doing to get them

If you fancy becoming an Uber driver but can’t afford a suitable car, consider moving to Denver, Colorado.

The ride-hailing company this week launched a new pilot scheme in the city offering wannabe drivers the chance to rent a Toyota Corolla or similar motor at the “special rate” of $210 a week, plus taxes. Oh, there’s a $40 non-refundable startup fee, too. And a $500 deposit which you can get back provided the car’s spick and span when you return it.

“What we’re trying to do here is lower the barrier to entry for someone who does want to work with Uber but who does not have a qualifying car or doesn’t have a car at all,” Uber’s Andrew Chapin told the Denver Post this week.

Uber partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to offer the program, which is open to anyone 25 and older with a valid driver’s license and valid credit or debit card. They must also be “in good standing” with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which we suppose means you haven’t run off with one of its vehicles in the past.

Related: Armed robber suspect tries to use Uber as a getaway car

While some wannabe Uber drivers may already have a car, the company’s strict rules about acceptable models means many people keen to join the service are unable to do so. If the program proves popular among such drivers, it could roll out the scheme to other towns and cities across the country over time, a move that’d likely see a significant uptick in the number of Uber cars on the road.

And why Denver? Chapin said the city was selected “because demand is very strong and the regulatory environment has been very progressive.”

Similar deals

The Post notes that Uber isn’t the first ride-hailing company to set up a scheme along these lines – San Francisco’s HyreCar connects car owners to ride-sharing drivers, though in this case the driver has to cover the cost of things like flat tires, clutch or transmission failure, and other damage specified in pre-rental agreements. In Denver, listings are showing HyreCar rental prices of between $150 and $315 weekly.

Uber also offers a leasing option called Xchange in several cities around the U.S., where drivers can use a car in a three-year deal starting at $107 a week, depending on the vehicle.

As for Uber’s Denver scheme, drivers who sign up but who fail to earn enough from rides over the rental period will of course still owe Enterprise, so they’ll need to be confident the demand will be there to cover costs and hopefully make a tidy profit, too.