Uber Canada in 2019: Groceries, Scooters, and Alcohol Delivery

Sometimes ride-sharing just isn’t enough.

Today, Uber officials unveiled plans for how they will expand new services through Canada over the next year, placing an emphasis on delivering new products to consumers and offering new ways for their users to travel. At the bottom of it all is Uber’s goal to remove as many cars from the roadways as possible.

“We want the Uber app on your cellphone to provide you with access to each type of transit that is relevant for you,” said Rob Khazzam, the GM of Uber Canada, at their office in Toronto. “That means in the future you are going to open the app and not just see Uber X or an ExpressPool or a Pool in a high-end vehicle. We are going to increasingly be providing you with access to different modes of transportation that better the journey you are going on.”

The most effective way to reduce the number of cars on the road is to enable new forms of transportation, and for Uber, that starts with e-scooters and bikes. Uber already has a wide network of scooters available in many U.S. cities, and though there are no concrete plans as to when or where in Canada scooters or bikes may roll out first, they are being looked at closely. Beyond scooters and bikes, Uber also hinted towards possible public transit partnerships, such as ones in place in New York City and Boston.

“We tend to be nimble in how we expand,” said Khazzam. “We really want to get things right. Particularly for a new mode of transportation, we are going to be really thoughtful in how we test that and demo it.”

Some companies have already begun exploring new ways to travel around Canada. Lime has been testing a scooter network in Waterloo for the last few months, though they were forced to recall a handful of unsafe scooters at the start of November.

uber scooter
An Uber JUMP scooter.

In terms of what Uber can bring a consumer, alcohol delivery is one of the main expansions. Originally launched in B.C. last year, Uber is now looking to bring the service to more Canadians. Ontario and Quebec are the first priorities, mainly due to the provincially-controlled retail strucutre—Uber would simply have to partner with the LCBO and SAQ and then they could easily launch the service.

The final part of Uber’s expansion is to deliver groceries. The ride-sharing company is currently hiring two grocery-specific roles in Toronto to “formulate our business, product and go-to-market strategy for grocery,” and Uber is likely trying to head into a space that features heavy competition from the likes of Instacart and Instabuggy.

As Uber rolls out more delivery and transportation options, they will also continue to expand their autonomous driving research. Just recently, they restarted driverless testing in Toronto, and towards the end of 2018 pledged $200 million to expand their R&D presence in Canada.