February 26, 2022

Getting Giggy With It: Using an Electric Vehicle in the Gig Economy

Flux was founded with the goal of making electric vehicles more accessible to the masses. That includes gig drivers, who might not otherwise be able to get behind the wheel of an EV. Keep reading to find out why Flux is such a great option for those who drive for work.
Over the shoulder of an Uber driver

Photo credit: uber-driver-reward.com

Renting or leasing an EV is fine…until you need it for an app-based “gig” job. Most vehicle lease or rental agreements don’t allow you to use your car for commercial purposes, which means you can either purchase a car—a big investment—or incur the high costs of renting through a gig-specific service like Lyft Express Drive. 

Flux is changing the rules of the leasing game, and one thing we wanted to do from the start was offer an affordable way for gig workers to drive electric. So it’s totally cool to use an EV from Flux to drive for Uber or deliver pizza with DoorDash or Grubhub. But you probably have lots of questions; hopefully we can answer some here.

What types of work can I do?

The sky’s the limit here. Drive with Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, Wingz…if you can make money with a car, we’re pretty sure one of our cars will do the trick. 

Second is the limitations of your personal insurance policy. Many insurers won’t cover you for commercial use, even if you weren’t working at the time of a loss. That way the insurance company has a legal excuse to not pay a claim if they discover you use your vehicle commercially. Worse yet, the gig company you work for will only cover you if your policy is valid, which means you may not be covered while you’re working, either! As for Flux, we require you have valid insurance, which means we can end the agreement if you don’t have the right insurance for your particular gig. (Learn about Flux’s insurance requirements here.)

The good news is many companies have insurance products crafted just for gig workers. They’re called something like a “rideshare waiver” or “rideshare rider” and are nowhere near as expensive as a full commercial policy. 

What are the advantages of using an EV?

The first advantage of using an EV for work is costs. Depending on where you live, electricity is a lot less expensive than gas, and if you’re a full-time Uber driver, for instance, that can mean saving hundreds of dollars a month, especially if you charge at home during off-peak hours. Not only do you save money, you save time—imagine waking up every morning and magic elves have filled your car’s gas tank for about $1.20 a gallon*. No more driving out of your way to find the cheapest gas or filling up your car at 2 am in the creepiest part of town, and if you do need to charge away from home, you can generally do it in less than an hour at the equivalent of roughly $2.40 a gallon – you’re paying extra for the convenience, and you probably won’t need a full charge to get you home.

Another advantage is maintenance costs. EV maintenance is so simple it’s almost a joke—the Chevrolet Bolt EV, for instance, has just three items to check in the first 150,000 miles-tires, washer fluid and the cabin-air filter. Forget about oil changes, brake jobs, timing belts and all the other stuff internal-combustion cars need to run their best. Flux will even pay $400 a year for maintenance, which will buy a lot of cabin-air filters. (More on maintenance costs and savings here.)

Passengers also love EVs, if rideshare driving is your thing. Rideshare passengers tend to be younger and more likely to be concerned about climate change and pollution, so expect to talk about your car. A lot. And a passenger that’s engaged and chatty is more likely to tip! EVs are also smooth and quiet, accelerate effortlessly and with “one pedal” driving make it easier to endure traffic jams and long days in the driver’s seat. 

*Based on electric rates at 16 cents/kilowatt hour, compared to a gasoline car returning 25 mpg.

Would a used hybrid be more economical?

The short answer to this is yes, especially if you find something more than 10 years old. But that short answer doesn’t factor a lot into the equation: You’ll be in an old car (you know that smell that velour seats get after a while? Like wet dog?), won’t have the flexibility of leasing, and will still be buying gasoline and scheduling maintenance appointments. 

I can’t afford a new EV!

We’d say buy used if you can’t afford new, but that’s problematic—higher new-car prices, supply chain disruptions and other factors have made both new and used cars harder to get—and more expensive. 

Flux is trying to ameliorate that for our customers by offering very affordable rates on gently used as well as new EVs, and for drivers who lease longer than three months, the mileage fee (the rate we charge per mile driven) going back to the first payment is applied to the down payment if you want to buy your car.

There’s other ways to afford an EV.  Drivers are automatically enrolled as soon as they register an EV to their account—and you get that dollar even if you’re in your other car, so long as 90 percent of your trips are done in an EV. Additionally, Uber drivers are eligible for sizeable cash rebates (on top of state and Federal incentives) on new Nissan and GM EVs and special rental rates on EVs, including the Tesla Model 3. There are other miscellaneous discounts and perks – check out Uber’s EV page

Once you’re out there driving, there are more incentives to help make EV driving affordable. Uber’s Zero Emissions Incentives program pays drivers an extra $1 per ride, up to $4,000 a year until the end of 2022, and when riders select the “Uber Green” (if available in their area) option drivers make an extra 50 cents regardless of trip length. Lyft states it is committed to an allfleet by 

What about charging?

We’ve written in depth about charging at home as well as away from home, but we can quickly recap. If you have a place to charge at home, we’ll help you get a charger installed so you can easily charge your car overnight. If you don’t have that ability, the fast-charge (meaning you can get up to an 80 percent charge in less than an hour, or 100 miles of range in as little as 10 minutes) network in our service area as well as many parts of the country has been growing rapidly. 

You’re seldom more than a few miles from a fast-charge station in urban areas. While you’re there, you can usually find a place to have a meal, use the restroom, refill your coffee or play a few hands of solitaire—all the things a gig worker needs to keep going all day! If you’re a rideshare driver, you’re in luck: Uber has a partnership with charge network EVGo, with a discount of up to 30 percent.

Will I have enough range?

There’s a large community of gig workers using EVs, so we think so. But there are a lot of factors, including the kind of work you do, the time of year, your vehicle, driving style, and so on that you need to consider. We’ve found that most rideshare drivers don’t drive more than their vehicle’s range in a day, and delivery drivers do far less. If you do, remember that remote charging is so that you can add just enough range to get you home or finish your shift. Additionally, drivers frequently split their shifts into two, three or even more sessions each day, so you can charge your car while you nap, eat, take care of family business or just have some me time.

What about maintenance?

Maintenance? What maintenance? Just kidding—even though EVs don’t need a lot of servicing, it’s a good idea to let your dealer look over the car periodically. Also, your (expensive!) tires will need to be checked and rotated every 5,000 miles or so to get the most life out of them—rubber is by far the largest maintenance expense on an EV.

Flux pays up to $400 a year for regular maintenance, and the vehicle’s warranty covers the most expensive components—the battery and associated electronics—for 8 years or 150,000 miles in California, so there isn’t a lot of pricey stuff to keep you up at night about. 

Are you ready to drive electric? Check out what Flux offers and how our flexible EV leases work.