I got an email from a reader the other day who drives a 2016 Nissan Leaf. He asked me whether his car would work for Uber or Lyft. Uber and Lyft do allow for electric vehicles as long as they meet the Uber vehicle or car requirements, but is it feasible? Will it logistically work?
Check out the video, then read the transcript below.
Is it feasible to drive for Uber in an electric car?
A little background on our reader Ron and his situation. He told me in an email that he can actually get just under 100 miles from a full charge and there are about 33 charging stations around his hometown in Atlanta where it actually allows for free Level Two charging, but it takes three and a half hours for a full charge.
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The closest airport in Atlanta is ATL, but he actually wouldn’t be able to make it there if he got a request because it’s too far. With the free charging his gas costs can potentially be zero, and electric cars also have a lot less moving parts, so maintenance is also much lower. There’s no oil, there’s no radiator or normal transmission, just the tires and brakes that need to be replaced.
Electric cars would work well for 90% of rides
I think he’ll actually be able to do this. If he wants to use an electric vehicle, I think he’ll be able to handle 90-95% of his requests just fine, since the average trip is only about five to 10 miles. It’s pretty rare that you actually get a request for anything that’s 20, 30 or 40, 50 miles especially. Now, if it’s busy you might do two to three trips in an hour, so probably not more than 10 or 20, 25 miles driven in an hour maximum.
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He should be able to go out for at least a solid three to four hour chunks at a time, but he should also make an effort to find a charging station in his downtime while he’s waiting for a request. As a normal driver with a regular gas car you want to minimize those miles driven in between passengers, since you’re not getting paid for it, but since he has 30 stations around his hometown, after he drops someone off he might as well go and sit at a charging station and read a book while he waits for his next request. Or, maybe he just goes and logs off the app for 10 or 15 minutes to get that little boost up.
Drawbacks of an electric car
Now, there are a couple of things to watch for. I think with electric vehicles, just like your cellphone battery dies out over time, the range of an electric vehicle is going to crease over time. So, if he can get 100 miles for every charge right now, he might not be able to get 100 in the future. That’s definitely something to consider, because batteries do lose charge over time. In a year or two the range might not be as good.
The other thing you have to watch out for is those long trips that are going to be over your range. The real problem you’re going to run into is that you don’t know a rider’s destination until you start the ride. Ron mentioned he can’t go to the airport. The way I’d handle that situation is I’d keep an eye on the passengers. If you’re at a residence and they’re coming out, you don’t need to worry about at a bar but if you’re at a residence and someone’s coming out with a bunch of luggage, don’t start the trip until they get to the car. That way, you can actually apologize and explain the situation without starting the trip. You can cancel the trip right then and there, and the passenger won’t be able to rate you. Once you start the trip, there is no way to cancel it without the passenger being able to rate you.
That’s definitely one thing that you want to watch out for. And at the end of your shift, you might also run into problems too, when you’re getting into that, “Oh, I only have 20 or 30 miles left,” type range, you have to be careful. You could try and use something like the destination filter to set a distance that’s within your range to avoid this, but obviously you might only get rides headed in one direction.
I think the best way to handle it is, if that happens and you see the destination’s too far, just let the passenger know, “Hey, I’m going to have to end this trip. You can email Uber and get a refund.” They may rate you poorly but you can still handle it just like that airport situation.
Not the best option, but you can make it work
I think that an electric vehicle isn’t the best rideshare vehicle out there because of these range issues, but you can definitely make it work and they obviously have their benefits. I mean, the real big thing, the attractive thing is going to be that free charging, not spending any money on gas.
I think in the future it could be a really interesting option, because once the range starts to increase on these vehicles, it’s going to be pretty beneficial. Now, gas obviously is a driver’s biggest expense, so getting rid of gas completely can really make a huge boost to your income, because now you have less expenses.
I hope you guys enjoyed this video. If you liked it give me a little thumbs up, feel free to subscribe to the channel, I’ve got lots more great content coming soon and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Take care.
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