While the average cost of an electric vehicle has dropped in recent years, that initial barrier remains one of the largest to more widespread EV adoption, particularly among low-income individuals. Forth’s Fair Financing Pilot Program, aims to help break down that barrier, beginning with rideshare drivers in the Portland Metro area.
Rideshare has long been seen as an ideal area for electrification due to the large number of miles these vehicles put on the road, making them a significant source of carbon emissions. The Union of Concerned Scientists has stated that ride-sharing trips, such as those offered by Uber and Lyft, “are about 69 percent more polluting than the types of trips they are replacing.” Although some ride-share services have announced their own electrification goals, for this reason, programs are still needed to help low-income individuals gain access to these cleaner vehicles.
Due to the nature of their work, rideshare driver’s incomes are a direct result of the expenses they have on their vehicle. For a combustion vehicle, this figure dramatically increases with higher mileage as drivers are not only paying for gas but for all of the preventative maintenance required. Most estimates state that the cost of operating an electric vehicle is less than half of that of a combustion engine, making them a valuable asset for a rideshare driver looking to increase their income.
Forth has partnered with Point West Credit Union and Prosper Portland to create a low-rate financing option that is specific to rideshare drivers looking to purchase a used electric vehicle. The establishment of a reserve fund has allowed Point West Credit Union to give low-income rideshare drivers, who are often underbanked, access to loans capped at 8%. As the increased financial stability of qualifying drivers is a primary objective of the program, Forth will work closely with individual borrowers to confirm each driver has all of the education, resources, and tools needed prior to enrolling.
Additionally, as rideshare work is a truly unique industry, Forth has crafted an educational component of this program that’s focused on addressing some of the concerns rideshare drivers may have with switching to an electric vehicle. This is being done by elevating the voices of those who have already successfully switched to an electric vehicle for this work. Their testimonies will shine a light on how they have successfully incorporated vehicle charging into their routine and have regained control of their vehicle expenses.
Over the past several months' rideshare drivers have been moving people and goods along the front lines of this pandemic. They have taken on the immense burden and responsibility of transporting our essential workforce while at the same time suffering from a dramatic drop in business. This program is a small but critical form of “smart” recovery from this pandemic and its associated economic downturn. It will not only put more money in the pockets of drivers who are trapped by the expenses of a gas vehicle, but it will help decrease emissions and improve air quality for all of us.
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