Detailed on the official Uber blog earlier today, the service that allows people to hire luxury sedans in major cities is experimenting with on-demand ice cream trucks this Friday. In order to bring a sweet treat to a certain location, a user starts up the Uber smartphone application and taps the icon that looks like an ice cream cone. The user can then select a location where the ice cream truck should show up. If a user is at work, they will be provided an estimated time of arrival through the application rather than having to wait outside for the truck to arrive. Ideally, an Uber user will probably want to share the ice cream with friends as the truck is only selling ice cream in bundles of five. After the ice cream is delivered to the Uber user, the credit card on file is charged $12 per ice cream bundle.
In an interview with the New York Times, Uber general manager Michael Pao indicated that the success of the test run will determine if Uber runs this promotion on a regular basis during the hot summer months. Pao stated “We’re offering a new way to experience ice cream similar to transportation. Opening your app and tapping a button and having something show up is magical when it comes to transportation. We feel it will be magical for other things too.”
The trucks will be operating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in New York City, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Washington D.C. and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Chicago, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto. Rather than using Uber branded trucks, the company is partnering with local ice cream truck vendors in order to create a wide distribution network. The type of ice cream sold within the bundles will vary by region as well. The trucks in Boston will be carrying pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream while the trucks in Toronto will be serving Klondike bars and soft serve. The trucks in New York City and San Francisco will be selling ice cream from popular local vendors instead of mass market brands. With the purchase of an ice cream bundle, the trucks will also be passing out Uber branded merchandise such as shirts and stickers.
This isn’t the first time Uber has attempted a unique promotion in order to increase user awareness about the company’s car service. During April 2012, Uber ran a special promotion on Tax Day in Seattle that offered 99 percent off rides to the post office to drop off tax forms in addition to rides to the liquor store to pick up some alcohol to drown Tax Day sorrows. The special deal was offered to 500 people in the Seattle area and was valued up to $25 per trip.
In addition, Uber recently announced the company is branching out to less affluent users by offering an option of hybrid cars instead of the luxury sedans. According to the New York Times, the cost of using an Uber hybrid will be about 10 to 25 percent more than the average cab. This is much cheaper than the 40 to 100 percent markup of using a luxury sedan through Uber.