Bolt is a company founded in 2013 under the name Taxify by the Estonian brothers Markus and Martin Villig, with the goal of creating an app-based taxi service in the style of Uber specifically focused on Eastern Europe. [1] Since its inception, the business has grown to include, in addition to taxi services, the rental of electric scooters and food deliveries. The company is established in 40 countries and was valued at more than SEK 18 billion in 2020. [2] [3] In Sweden, Bolt established itself in April 2019. [4]

Taxi service

In terms of design, Bolt’s taxi service is not much different from Uber. Through the Bolt app’s map function, the customer can see which drivers are nearby, and then fill in the destination and order a car. The price that the customer pays is based on several factors, including time of day and distance.

Those who drive taxis for Bolt are not employed by the company, which means that Bolt in principle has no obligations to drivers. To work as a driver, you need to provide a smartphone and your own car, or be employed by an intermediary in the form of a haulier. [5] Responsibility for taxing correctly and paying VAT correctly is entirely the responsibility of the drivers, and the company refers to the Swedish Tax Agency for questions. [6]

Bolt’s agreement for drivers from 2019 includes an obligation to legally waive all claims to be counted as employees of Bolt, even in the event that there were laws that would in any way “force” Bolt to be counted as an employer. In the agreement, the company also waives full liability for damage that may affect drivers or vehicles as a result of the passengers’ actions. [7]

Just like at Uber, Bolt’s drivers are judged according to a rating system, where drivers receive an average rating based on their last 40 reviews. On its website, the company suggests different ways to raise the average rating, which includes everything from having Apple and Android chargers available in the car to using deodorant regularly as a driver. [8]

The company is happy to present the work as a driver as a flexible job for “go-getters” and fighters. What this means in practice is that there are no fixed working hours or breaks, and that the work is done entirely on commission. At the same time, drivers are encouraged to be as active as possible in receiving orders in order to increase their “acceptance rate” and thus receive various bonuses. [9] In Stockholm and Gothenburg, Bolt currently charges a 20% brokerage fee per trip. [10] Payment of compensation to drivers is made weekly. [11]

Bolt Food

Bolt Food is the name of the company’s food delivery service, which was launched in August 2019. The service works much like Foodora , and allows the customer to order food from the restaurants that have joined the app. The food is delivered by courier by bicycle, moped or electric car. Just as with the taxi service, the couriers who deliver food for Bolt Food are not employees of the company, but are counted as self-employed. [12]

The compensation for Bolt Food couriers is entirely commission-based. Since December 2021, the compensation is a minimum of SEK 50 per delivery. This means a significant reduction from previous compensation levels of SEK 70-80 per delivery. Although there are some opportunities to earn more, depending on travel distance and other factors, couriers like Gigwatch have been in contact with the fact that the compensation today very rarely exceeds the minimum amount of just SEK 50.

Since the couriers are classified as self-employed, the compensation is not to be counted as a sum that the couriers receive “in hand”. After the employer’s contribution, VAT and other expenses have been paid, it can be as little as SEK 25-30 per delivery. Sources to Gigwatch also testify that there is often high competition for assignments, and that couriers can spend a larger part of the day waiting for a job than with paid work.

While Bolt likes to present itself as a neutral platform rather than an employer, they seem keen that the couriers should act as representatives of the company. In the Powerpoint presentations that Bolt uses as introductory material, the couriers are encouraged, among other things, to keep their equipment and vehicles clean, as well as not to smoke wearing Bolt clothes. [13]

Company connections

Bolt’s investors and shareholders include German Daimler and Chinese Didi Chuxing. Daimler is a multinational car company and the largest truck manufacturer in the world. The company has been involved in corruption scandals, and was caught in 2010 holding secret bank accounts used to bribe governments in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. [14] [15]

Didi Chuxing is a Chinese company that also runs its own taxi service in China. In 2018, the company ended up in bad weather and was criticized for lack of security, after users of the service were murdered. [16] Both Daimler and Didi provide hits in the archives of offshore companies from the Panama leaks. [17]

[The article was last updated 13-01-2022]