Brand Extension: Uber Takes Flight

Will Uber drivers soon need pilot’s licenses? If the ride-sharing service succeeds in its latest ambition, the answer may well be ‘yes’. Adweek online reports that the Uber brand is extending its reach by developing a unique program called ‘Uber Elevate.’ The service will provide on-demand air transportation to anyone in a hurry. Which includes more than a few harried people.    

How is Uber laying the groundwork for expanding its brand to the skies above? Currently, the ride-sharing service plans to test its airborne passenger carriers in three cities —  Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne.

While not widely known, Uber already has air transportation experience. During the summer, the ride-share company introduced the Uber Copter to the city of New York. Employing a fleet of peppy helicopters, the service routinely whisked passengers between Manhattan and JFK Airport.

One characteristic that distinguishes Uber Elevate vehicles from these conventional copters is the form of energy used. The Elevate vehicles will be fully electric, making it the Tesla of the skies. A green machine gliding across a blue horizon. Eventually, the vehicles will be completely autonomous. At least, that’s the stated goal.

Looking down the road, Uber anticipates Elevate will be up and running in one of the test cities in about three years. The fleet will number anywhere from 20 to 50 flying machines. From there, if all goes according to plan, the operation will expand to encompass as many as 25 cities.

Admittedly, advanced aerial technology places Uber in a whole new ballgame. So, the service has enlisted the assistance of aeronautical heavyweights such as Boeing and NASA to help with vehicle development and implementation. And it’s a good thing. The aircraft required for Uber duty doesn’t exist yet. Therefore, bold innovation and engineering precision will be mandatory.

Will this brand extension pay off in the long run? That depends on whether the price is right. Clearly, travel cost must deliver customer value. If not, the entire project may never get off the ground.

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