Project Lessons: EV Car Share
The U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office funded multiple projects that included the purchase or leasing of electric vehicles (EVs) for car share programs, which can be used for personal trips, ride-hailing services, or delivery services. A review of project outcomes and interviews with project staff were conducted to highlight lessons learned and opportunities for greater project efficiency and success. Others embarking on similar projects can take into account the key considerations summarized below, which discuss best practices for engaging stakeholders, strategies for improving the equitable distribution of project benefits, site selection factors, and permitting/policy elements that could impact the project.
Car shares are short-term rentals that enable access to a vehicle for those without their own without the high cost of ownership. Establishing EV car shares reduces emissions and creates awareness of EV benefits in more communities. A common barrier to EV adoption is the lack of home charging, particularly for people living in multifamily housing (MFH). One project found that EV awareness is lower in low-income communities and EV car share programs and EV charging in low-income MFH can expand clean transportation options. Car shares can also be used for gig drivers who use the EVs for ride hailing, food and meal delivery, and similar services.
Past Funded Projects
- American Lung Association: Evie Carshare (EV car share throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN)
- Clean Fuels Ohio: Decentralized Mobility Ecosystem: Market Solutions for 21st Century Electrified Mobility
- Forth: The Saint Louis Vehicle Electrification Rides for Seniors (SiLVERS)
- PacifiCorp: Western Smart Regional Electric Vehicles Adoption and Infrastructure At Scale
- Virginia Department of Minerals and Energy: The Mid-Atlantic Electrification Partnership – An Electrification Ecosystem of Intermodal Leadership and Intercity Travel
Key considerations for car share projects are summarized below. See the table later in this document for more details on project considerations.
Car Share Program Models
- There are several car share program operating models. What works best for a project will depend on whom the car share is intended to serve (e.g., general public, MFH residents) and where vehicles can be left at the end of trip.
- Round-trip car share involves a dedicated location where trips begin and end. This has been the model for dedicated car sharing at MFH.
- One-way station car share is based on where the car share begins; trips end at specific reserved parking locations.
- One-way free-floating car share allows vehicles to be returned to a certain zone within a region rather than to a specific parking spot.
- There are numerous options for car share program rate structures.
- Typically, there is a one-time application/registration fee.
- Rates are generally per minute or hour with a discounted rate for those who pay a monthly membership fee (best for those who will use the service more often).
- Some programs include mileage without a monthly membership while others charge a rate for mileage. Included mileage is usually up to 50 miles.
- Several past and existing programs offered reduced rates for participants whose income is below a designated threshold.
- Determine at the start who will own/lease, insure, and be responsible for vehicle cleaning, operations, and maintenance. Examples of the responsible party from funded projects included car share companies, cities (lease), a taxi company, a nonprofit, and a MFH owner.
- For leased vehicles, prepare a plan for after the lease period. If the leases can be bought out, identify potential funders and owners for when the project transitions from demonstrations to sustained use.
- Vehicle selection is important for car sharing, ride hailing, and taxis.
- Both range and charge speed as well as cost will impact vehicle selection.
- A past project found that ride hailing and delivery drivers need range greater than 225 miles and max charging power exceeding 75 kW at a net cost of less than $35,000. (Generally, these vehicles are made available to ride hailing and delivery drivers for a weekly rental fee.)
- Car share projects found vehicles with a short range (less than 100 miles) were insufficient for user needs and negatively impacted by data systems using the vehicles' batteries.
- Account for parasitic load impacts on vehicle range. A project found that the car share platform system drew battery energy even when the vehicle was not in use and that data collection software further impacted vehicle range.
- Determine if car share vehicles at MFH are solely for residents or if they are available to the public.
- Determine whether car share vehicles are one-way or if they must be returned to the same location. Past projects required that the vehicles return to the MFH when not in use.
- Future projects could consider vehicles accessible to people who use wheelchairs, which were not available in the previously funded projects.
- Commercial vehicle tax credits are available for up to $7,500 for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 14,000 pounds (up to $40,000 for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 14,000 pounds).
- Car share projects have used both Level 2 charging and DC fast charging. Ideally, both options are available for car share use. Use existing car share data to determine the charging needs for a project's specific region.
- Ride hailing and taxis will require access to DC fast chargers in multiple locations so that drivers do not lose revenue due to long charge times or having to drive out of their way to find a DC fast charger.
- Projects should work with ride hailing and taxi companies to identify common locations where drivers dwell between rides. Past projects found high utilization rates when placing DC fast charging at airport waiting areas and mobility hubs.
- Determine if car share vehicles will have dedicated EV charging locations. One project set up four ports at each charging location with two dedicated to car share and two available for public use.
- Consider if car share programs will require the user to park at a charging location or in a certain geographical zone but not at a charger. Plan for how a car share program will move vehicles not left at or plugged into chargers.
- For car sharing at MFH, determine if the charging will occur onsite or at a nearby EV charging site. Determine if MFH residents who participate in car sharing are required to park in an EV charger spot and start the charge.
- Consider the personal safety and security for people using EV chargers.
Local Government Stakeholders
- Past projects learned it was necessary to include stakeholders from city council and parking, traffic, and planning authorities to enable decision-making.
- One past project worked with the parking departments from two cities to establish multiple places where it was acceptable to park car share vehicles.
- Community engagement should begin during the project development phase, prior to selecting sites where car share EVs will be deployed and should continue throughout project implementation and after deployment.
- To better understand equity considerations, consult Table 1: An Approach to Include Equity and Energy Justice Consideration in Decision Making in "Energy Justice: Key Concepts and Metrics Relevant to EERE Transportation Projects."
- Community members have deep knowledge of their area's history and needs. Build relationships with community-based organizations prior to the grant application process. When a grant application is issued, ask if they would like to be a partner to collaboratively develop the project.
- Develop a community engagement plan early in the project with strategies to gather input from community members and promote the program. Providing content in multiple languages and translating material into clear, transparent, and accessible content is highly recommended.
- For car sharing at MFH locations, work with the municipal building department and known builders to identify new buildings where car sharing can be implemented. A past project found that promoting car sharing to building residents helped decrease the number of individual vehicles.
- If engaging communities via listening sessions or surveys, compensating community organizations and community members for their time and input is highly recommended.
- Consider how the time, location, language, and method of communication with community organizations affects people's ability to effectively engage.
- Provide community members with opportunities to recommend and/or reject sites.
- Hire local organizations to inform and/or lead community engagement, as they will have knowledge and connections to community organizations.
- When selecting sites, work with nearby building owners and homeowners.
- Projects found community participation was more successful with in-person events that included food (particularly for ride hailing and delivery drivers) and high-profile speakers from project partners like OEMs. It is also a best practice to provide childcare and ensure there are efficient and affordable transportations options for attendees.
- Engage in discussions about EV benefits. There has been a concern expressed by some that EVs may not be accessible for everyone.
- Several past and existing programs offered reduced rates for participants whose income is below a designated threshold.
- Consider how car share payment methods impact participants at different income levels or immigrants living in the United States without legal permission. Most car share companies require a credit card for payment, and 30% of households do not have a credit card. One example of how to provide a more inclusive payment structure is a project that allowed car share participants to access and pay for car sharing through either a phone app or by using transit card.
- A project with existing carsharing at MFH with varied income residents owned the vehicles and already had information for participants from their rental application, which helped streamline access as EVs were added to the car share fleet.
- Collaborate with community partners to identify what equity means for this project, what equity considerations will be incorporated, and criteria for equitable site selection. Select sites based on input from community members.
- Projects found it beneficial to use both income and race demographic data layers as part of the site selection process in the interest of identifying underserved communities.
- Projects recommended using local demographics on cost of living to supplement federal data with more granular, up-to-date information.
- Incorporate knowledge gained through community members' lived experiences. Ask local residents how they utilize the spaces in their communities instead of relying on maps or other tools. As an example, a map may identify an open space as a park but community members might understand that space as a field without amenities and therefore does not utilize this as public space.
- Forth Mobility: "Low-Income Carsharing Report"
- Boston EV car share Good2Go
- Colorado CarShare
- Los Angeles BlueLa
- Minneapolis/St. Paul Evie
- Columbus Yellow Cab Fleet Electrification Case Study
- Lyft EVs
- Uber EVs
Identify who will own/lease, insure, maintain, and be responsible for cleaning, operations, and maintenance of the vehicles.
Plan early for leased vehicles to identify opportunities to convert to ownership or otherwise keep EVs available for car share and ride share after the funded program ends.
Vehicle selection is important to meet driver needs. Consider both range and charge speed.
A past project found ride hailing and delivery drivers needed 225 miles of range and charging speed of 75kW or higher. This will allow 95% of drivers to work on a single charge.
A study found $35,000 or below the ideal price for an EV for weekly rental rates to be economical for ride hailing and delivery drivers.
Car share projects found older model EVs and those with lower range around 100 miles were not sufficient to meet driver needs.
Parasitic loads had negative impacts for past projects. When considering car share technology and data tracking, ask about how much electric power these applications require and how often do they draw from the battery system. Ask if these applications have used on a similar EV model in the last. A project found that the technology they selected for car share had only been used on Teslas in the past and they added it to Leafs and it was too much for the battery capacity.
Determine who is eligible to use MFH car share-is it solely residents or are they available to the public.
Determine whether car share vehicles are one-way or if they must be returned to the same location. Past projects required that the vehicles return to the MFH when not in use.
Consider what the responsibilities of car share drivers are. Do they need to park at an EV charger and plug the vehicle in or is there the option, as one project has, to leave the vehicle within a certain zone.
Identify who will own vehicles if they are part of the project. In some projects vehicles were leased due to complex ownership issues and the ability to obtain insurance.
Projects should consider including vehicles accessible to people who use wheelchairs once available.
Ride hailing and taxis will require access to DC fast chargers in multiple locations so that drivers do not lose revenue due to long charge times or having to drive out of their way to find a DC fast charger.
Work with ride hailing, delivery, and taxi companies to identify locations where drivers dwell between rides such as airport waiting areas and mobility hubs.
Car share projects used both Level 2 and DC fast chargers. Ideally, both options are available for car share use. Use existing car share data to determine the charging needs for a project's specific region.
Determine where car share vehicles are parked when a driver has completed their session. Does it need to be at an EV charger and plugged in or is there an option to park in a geographical zone as one project did which requires car share staff to move vehicles to chargers as needed.
For car sharing at MFH, determine if the charging will occur onsite or at a nearby EV charging site. Determine if MFH residents who participate in car sharing are required to park in an EV charger spot and start the charge.
Community engagement should begin during the project development phase, prior to selecting sites where car share EVs will be deployed, and should continue throughout project implementation and after deployment.
Work with communities to identify siting EV chargers in areas that consider personal security and safety for those charging.
Build relationships with community-based organizations prior to the grant application process. When a grant application is issued, ask if they would like to be a partner to collaboratively develop the project. Allow the organizations to determine how EV car share and/or ride hailing align with their missions and goals.
If engaging communities via listening sessions or surveys, compensating community organizations and community members for their time and input is highly recommended.
Keep organizations involved throughout the life of the project by sharing data results and giving them an equitable voice in ongoing decision making. Prioritize input from communities and organizations most impacted by site locations of EVs and EV chargers.
Create a useful and accessible project webpage for the community, where project information is presented in clear, accessible, and transparent content provided in multiple languages that meet community needs. Develop a broad stakeholder list. Conduct listening sessions at times convenient for the greatest amount of participation in a location that allows for efficient and affordable transportation and the option of childcare. Communicate site selection criteria and how the project defines and prioritizes underserved communities. If the need arises, hire a local contractor for any community engagement work rather than organizations outside of the community.
Ask for community input on the location of EV car share vehicles and EV chargers to support them.
Develop a community engagement plan early in the project with strategies to gather input from community members and promote the program. Providing content in multiple languages and translating material into clear, transparent, and accessible content is highly recommended.
Siting car share locations in low-income communities or as part of MFH projects can enable underserved communities and residents access to EVs they otherwise may not be able to afford.
Consider how car share application requirements such as credit and driving record impact low-income participants. While insurance may dictate some requirements, consider how they can be applied to allow for wider community use.
More than one method to access car share can increase participation. One project allowed the use of a metro transit card to both access and pay for car share in addition to the most common method of using a phone application.
A successful deployment of car share at a varied income MFH was due to ownership of the vehicles by the MFH owner. The MFH owner already had information on residents from rental applications which streamlined the car share application process.
Collaborate with community partners to identify what equity means for this project, what equity considerations will be incorporated, and criteria for equitable site selection. Select sites based on input from community members.
The majority of ride hailing starts and ends in low-income neighborhoods. Most riders do not have vehicles. Conduct focus groups with ride hailing driver to determine where drivers spend time for possible DC fast charging locations.
Projects found it beneficial to use both income and race demographic data layers as part of the site selection process in the interest of identifying underserved communities.
Projects found that federal equity data may not be sufficient—consider local demographics on cost of living for more granular, up-to-date information.