EVs for the "gig economy"> Time to ditch the horse-and-buggy car designs

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EVs for the "gig economy"> Time to ditch the horse-and-buggy car designs

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GM Announces Bolt Lease for Uber, Lyft Drivers
May 4, 2017  Nick Kurczewski

2017 Chevrolet Bolt  Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

CARS.COM — Maven, GM's car-sharing service, is now expanding to the world of ride hailing courtesy of a lease deal aimed directly at Uber and Lyft drivers in the so-called "gig economy." For a $229 weekly rate, users have access to a Chevrolet Bolt EV, the automaker's new electric-powered, five-passenger hatchback. This weekly rate includes unlimited mileage, along with insurance, maintenance and free charging (though only at official "EVgo" stations).

Initially limited to major markets in California, this service moves Maven into a new mobility sector, while also serving to put Bolt EVs into the hands of drivers who might have otherwise not known about the car, or been wary of an electric-powered vehicle. The Bolt carries a starting price of $37,495 with destination — which drops to $29,995 after factoring in a federal tax credit — and has a driving range of 238 miles per charge.

While the pert dimensions and handy hatchback layout of the Bolt EV make it a solid choice for city driving, the issue of range and accessibility to charging stations could be major drawbacks for ride-hailing drivers. According to Chevrolet's number crunching, the fastest of fast-charging stations adds 90 minutes of range to the Bolt in about 30 minutes. That's fine for the average driver, though it falls flat (pun intended) for anyone who needs to keep the wheels of their vehicle constantly running to make a quick buck.

Why Should I Care? Automakers are covering all angles when it comes to car-sharing agreements, ride-hailing partnerships and the promotion of self-drive systems (sometimes in cooperation with the same car-sharing and ride-hailing companies). GM is promoting Maven Gig, as this new venture is officially titled, as "a low-risk way to test the freelance economy and get your side hustle on." Yes, GM used the term "side hustle" in its press release — and no, we'll never be the same from this point onward.

Jokes aside, in GM's estimation, by 2020 an estimated 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working on a freelance basis to some degree. Seeking to cash in on this trend, GM hopes to put one of its newest — and certainly one if its most futuristic — vehicles into the hands of a very specific and extremely vehicle-dependent growing workforce.

Compared to behemoths like Uber and Lyft, however, Maven remains a relative minnow in the new mobility economy. Available in 11 cities around the country, Maven has an estimated 35,000 members who have logged upwards of 115 million miles of travel in roughly 45,000 reservations. For comparison, Uber has upwards of 300,000 active drivers and, as of late-2016, estimated that each month approximately 40 million Uber rides are hailed around the world.

Be it freelance, gig or whatever you want to call it, those kinds of hard numbers are impossible for any automaker to ignore.
[© 2017 Cars.com]

"gig economy"  a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.  "working in the gig economy means constantly being subjected to last-minute scheduling"

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