Contents:

    👉 Do you use an EV to drive for rideshare or delivery? Join our Facebook Group for EV gig drivers for discussions about the current state and future of EVs.

    What if we told you that you could give yourself a $3-per-hour raise right now? Well you can…if you switch to an electric vehicle (EV) for your gig work, be it delivery driving or rideshare. The amount you save using electricity instead of gas really can boost your earnings by that much! EV champion and RSG contributor Gabe Ets-Hokin shares what the best electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft drivers are below.

    instacart

    EVs: 10 or even five years ago, it would be a tough sell to get me to try to use one for rideshare work. That’s because making a living wage in this industry requires a variety of careful strategies, and driving an overpriced vehicle with a limited range and long recharging times isn’t one of them.

    Times have changed, and we have more choices in this space. If you’ve done the research and think an EV – or plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) – is a good match for your driving strategies and lifestyle, read on: I’ve got some choices for you.

    If you’re not ready to buy a rideshare vehicle yet, check out our list of recommended rental options for drivers here.

    Learn about what it’s like driving an electric vehicle for Uber here.

     

    Electric Vehicle News from Uber

    As of May 2022, Uber announced even more benefits for Uber and Lyft drivers. If you’ve wondered about the cost of electric vehicles, whether or not you would be compensated more for driving an EV, or had questions about electric vehicle incentives, Uber can help!

    Uber is rolling out a new way to earn for drivers with electric vehicles called Uber Comfort Electric. You’ll be paid higher than typical Comfort rates, but slightly under below Black car driver earnings. Here’s what it will look like in the app:

    In addition to Uber Comfort Electric, Uber also heard electric vehicle drivers when they said they wanted more information about electric vehicles – cost, availability of charging stations, etc.

    Uber announced in May 2022 that they’ll be rolling out an EV Hub and Charging Map for drivers. Soon you’ll see the EV Hub in your app, where you can compare the cost of ownership of an EV to a non-EV, find charging stations, and more.

    Overall, these changes make it easier for drivers considering electric vehicles, as they’ll have access to higher earnings and have a one-click hub to find charging stations all within their app.

    The Best Electric Vehicles for Uber and Lyft Drivers

    Best Cheapskate Option: Ford CMax or Fusion Energi

    Price: $8,000-$30,000 EV Range: 20 miles-30 miles

    Okay, it’s not really an electric vehicle, but it allows some of the benefits of the EV. Ford’s “Energi” models pair a 7.6 kWh, air-cooled battery and 47-hp electric motor with a 141-hp Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine for a peppy total of 188 system horsepower. If you drive it carefully, you can tool around in slow-speed city traffic in EV mode for up to two hours doing short trips, and then take a break for an hour and charge at a level-two charger and repeat. Or you can keep driving in hybrid mode and get about 38 mpg.

    These cars are refined, quiet and fun to drive. The Fusion has more trunk space than the C-Max, but my opinion (I owned a C-Max for three years) is that the weird-looking hatchback is more fun to drive and wows passengers with its ample headroom. Both cars are reliable, nicely equipped, appointed and pretty reasonable to buy used; if you can, buy a used car still under factory warranty so you can buy an extended warranty.

    Runners-up: Prius Prime, Kia Optima/Hyundai Sonata, and more

    There are other small and mid-sized PHEVs  worth mentioning…and a few I’d avoid. A 2017 and up Toyota Prius Prime has a 25-mile EV range (the older Prius PHEV has a not-worth-mentioning 11 mile EV range), the Kia Optima or Hyundai Sonata PHEV can go 30, and the weird-looking-but-spacious Honda Clarity PHEV will take you almost 50 miles on electrons alone—but those cars (along with the Kia Niro PHEV) will run you in the high teens and low 20s for a clean, low-mile example. But availability of used Ford PHEVs is just so much greater than all the other models it’s still a clear choice, and prices for them don’t seem to have gone up as much as other cars.

    And of course, there’s Chevy’s famous and much-loved Volt, with a 50-ish mile EV range, but it’s just not eligible for Uber or Lyft as it only has four seatbelts. It’d make a fine delivery vehicle though.

    Best XL Option: Pacifica PHEV

    Price: $8,000-$50,000 EV Range: 30-plus miles

    If you want to drive XL and not burn gas, you can buy a Tesla Model X and then sob with frustration after you realize your car and insurance payment soak up half your income. Or you could pick up a used Chrysler Pacifica PHEV for under $30,000.

    That’s because it’s spacious for 7 people, gets great fuel economy – over 80 mpg if you keep it charged and just drive short trips – and is packed with luxury, infotainment and safety features. You can also drive it 30 miles on battery alone. When the electrons run dry, the big gas tank allows another 550 miles of hybrid-mode range at about 33 mpg.

    Like most Chrysler-Fiat products, build quality and reliability is below average, so get an extended warranty. Buying new may be surprisingly affordable, thanks to a $7,500 federal tax credit, state incentives and factory/dealer discounting.

    The other car I considered for this category was Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, but it got beat by the Chrysler for a few reasons. Even though it’ll go up to 22 miles on battery power, after that it returns just 25 mpg, only 3 mpg better than a standard Outlander. And though it technically fits seven people, those people are either small, or will wish they were small.

    Best Cheapskate All-Electric Option: Nissan Leaf

    Price: $4,000-$15,000                EV Range: 80-140 miles

    If your Uber/Lyft style is lots of short trips (or you mainly do delivery) and you usually take a break during the day, you may have some success with a used Nissan Leaf. The Leaf is the most prolific EV in North America, with 150,000 sold here since 2011. That means there are a lot of them on the used market: I saw over 1,000 results on a recent Autotrader.com search. You can get a low-mile 2011 for $4,000, but beware: the air-cooled, 20-kWh battery is known to have serious degradation issues, cutting the rated 80-ish mile range to less than 50. 

    The way to go would be to find a clean, low-mile 2016 or newer model, with the 30 kWh battery. It’s a more-durable design and offers 110 miles of range. You can find these for under $10,000, or splurge and get a 2017 or newer with the 40 kWh pack and 140 miles of range. That should last six or more hours in city driving, and the car’s CHAdeMO fast-charger should get you back on the road with an 80-percent charge after 40-60 minutes.

    Pony up an extra $2,000-5,000 and you might be able to snag a clean example of the updated 2018 and newer Leaf, which give you 150 miles of range, better styling, and much better tech. If you want more than 200 miles of range in a Nissan, you’ll spend over $20,000 for a used “Plus” version.

    You may even want to consider buying a new one. Uber drivers are eligible for an $8,000 discount on a new 2021 Leaf and $6,000 off the price of a 2022, and Leafs (Leaves?) are still eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. With dealer discounting (I saw a base model with 150 miles range advertised at $25,945), you could drive home in a new EV at a net cost of $12,445. 

    But cheapskates, be warned: the Leaf uses the ChaDeMo charging system, not the DC Fast Charge most other EVs (besides Tesla) use. That means there are fewer stations (about 5,000 nationwide as of summer of 2020) and since ChaDemMo is being phased out by the manufacturers—Nissan will no longer use ChaDeMo when it phases out the Leaf in the next year or two—the stations will not be upgraded or replaced.

    So if you do find one, it’ll likely be a slower, 50 kWh one while the DCFC chargers are running 150 kWh or more. Like real life, in the EV world there are no free lunches.

    Not interested in buying just quite yet? Drivers in select areas can rent a Chevy Bolt EV through Maven. At $374 a week it may not be as cost-efficient as owning, but it includes charging and will give you a taste of the EV-owner’s lifestyle.

    Best Option for the Brave DIY-er: Tesla Model S 60

    Price: $25,000-$40,000              EV Range: 208-260 miles

    Do you know what all the settings on a Voltmeter are for? Can you explain the difference between Amps and Watts? Does your homeowner’s insurance cover (unlikely but possible) garage fires? Good with a wrench? A used Tesla Model S may be for you.

    The Tesla Model S is a ground-breaking vehicle, the first mass-produced long-range EV. It’s also considered a luxury vehicle for purposes of Uber Select or Lyft Lux, and may even be eligible for Uber Black. Look around, and you might find one for under $25,000.

    It’ll likely have six figures on the odometer, and will need to have some issues sorted, but fear not: these cars were built to last a lifetime and some are exceeding a half-million miles. You’ll enjoy a huge network of fast-charge stations and you’ll impress your passengers, most of whom will have never ridden in a Tesla before. You’ll also enjoy 208-260 miles of range (you can fast charge to 80 percent in about 45 minutes) as well as handling and acceleration on par with $80,000 European-built luxury sedans. 

    One last thing: if you find a pre-2017 and buy it from a private seller (not a dealer), the car may even have transferable free Supercharging for life. That’s right, unlike other cars, the Tesla can actually pay for its own fuel—let’s see a Mercedes do that. Free gas aside, life with an aging EV may not be the most economical or practical decision, but you will be driving a special and memorable car.

    Best EV: Chevy Bolt EV

    Price: $15,000-$40,000              EV Range: 259 miles

    If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you’ll know I’m a fan of the Bolt EV. That’s because it checks (almost) all the boxes when it comes to a rideshare or delivery vehicle: inexpensive cost of entry, cheap to maintain (the only maintenance items to 150,000 miles are the cabin air filter and tire rotations), easy to get in and out of, surprisingly roomy and a tough, durable (if spartan) interior. Oh yeah, and occasional catastrophic fires.

    Say what? It’s no secret GM recalled every single Bolt made, about 150,000 vehicles, to replace batteries. And not just individual cells. No, GM is going to replace every single cell made by LG chem, which is 288 cells times 140,000 vehicles. Forty million cells, each one about the size of a paperback romance novel.

    Lucky for prospective (and current) Bolt owners, LG has fixed the manufacturing defect and has a lot of production capacity, millions of cells a month. GM is already replacing battery packs (the work is done at individual GM dealers), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of packs were upgraded before next summer. The sale of new Bolts and Bolt EUV models should start up by the New Year.

    What that means is if you’re brave enough to buy a used Bolt right now, you should have an EV with a brand new battery with an extra 20 miles of range and an eight-year, 100,000 miles warranty for half the price of a new EV. The only problem is you have to park it outside after charging and be careful to not charge it to 100 percent or let it discharge below 70 miles of remaining range. 

    You’ll also get an extremely practical and economical Uber/Lyft vehicle that is fun to drive and very pleasing to passengers. You’ll also probably never need to fix or even maintain anything except your tires: can your Camry do that? Still, get an extended warranty if you can, because they’re cheap and who knows?

    If you want a new Bolt, you will have to wait, but it could be worth it. For 2022, GM dropped the price of the Bolt to $31,995 (not including destination, etc), $8,000 less than the 2021. GM also offered $8,000 off unsold 2021 models, plus Uber drivers get another $2,500 off and if the Biden administration’s new EV incentives get signed into law (don’t hold your breath but it could happen), the union-made Bolt will offer up another $12,500 in a point-of-sale rebate, not a tax credit like the old program.

    That means a lucky and persistent driver could score a brand-new EV for about $17,000 before any dealer discount or local incentives.

    If you hold out for the 2022, not only will you be able to pay a little extra and get a Bolt EUV, with its extra three inches of rear-passenger legroom, (which should make it eligible for Uber Comfort, not that Uber is particularly logical or diligent about that) Uber drivers can get an additional $2,000 off (thanks to Uber’s new EV initiatives) and that Federal rebate (if it happens) can carve off another $12,500.

    It’s not all roses and lollipops with the Bolt. It has a small trunk, is speed limited to 91 mph and the fast-charger is (still, even with the redesigned 2022 model, a horrible mistake if you ask me) just 50 kWh, which means it takes over an hour to juice up to an 80 percent charge on a DC fast charger.

    But my experience as a rideshare EV driver is you can work about six to eight hours if you start your shift with a full battery, you drive conservatively and it’s not too cold (which can sap range up to 40 percent).

    Bonus Choice: Best EV if you can’t charge at home: Tesla Model 3

    Yes, it sounds crazy and I would have agreed with you…last year. And then…

    • Bolts started bursting into flames.
    • GM offers warranty fix that doesn’t really do anything.
    • Gabe becomes Angry Gabe and gets on the phone to GM.
    • GM offers to buy Angry Gabe’s 2018 Bolt from him for over $40,000 (join our Uber & Lyft EV Drivers group for details).
    • Gabe orders a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus for $39,990 just before Elon Musk jacks up the price $2,000. 

    Why? I’ve driven a dozen different EVs so far, and for the money the Tesla just can’t be beat. It’s Comfort-eligible (but not Select, not anymore), fast, quiet, has a very comfortable (if spare) interior, has an unmatched infotainment package, gives you 250 miles of range with regular tires, has a panoramic glass roof standard, lots of luggage space and, most importantly to me, is fun to drive.

    Most importantly to a prospective EV driver with no dedicated charging area at home, you can access Tesla’s Supercharger network to charge your car quickly (about 200 miles of range in under 30 minutes), easily and conveniently for less than the price of gasoline (usually). 

    Okay, but $45,000 (out the door) is a lot of money to spend on a rideshare vehicle, no? It is a lot, and for some of us, it’s just nice to have nice things. But let’s face it: nobody ever got rich driving for Uber, and a lot of us don’t have a lot of financial freedom, so the decision has to make good financial sense. And it does… maybe.

    The “maybe” part depends on depreciation, which I’ve always assumed would be 100 percent after five years of Uber-abuse for any car. After all, who would want a car that endured thousands and thousands of miles of pothole-bouncing, drunk-puking, door-slamming hell? Well, turns out a lot of people, if it’s a Tesla Model 3.

    Two or three-year-old Model 3s are being offered at prices very close to the original MSRP, even with six figures on the odometer. I think it’s reasonable to assume you’ll recover more than half of the car’s value after five years, even with very high mileage, as long as the car is still in reasonably good condition. 

    With that assumption, you’re sort of banking the capital you invest upfront and that gives you a similar per-mile operating cost as a used (not new!) late-model Toyota Prius, with the added bonus of it not being a Prius, no offense to my Prius-driving brothers and sisters. Check out my spreadsheet, and keep in mind the values I used may not match your area, driving habits or other situations.

    Really Close Runners-Up: Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4

    I’ve recently had a chance to drive these two cars and I liked them a lot. It’s nice to see not only a lot of choices in the EV marketplace, but a lot of good choices, and when the new Hyundai and Ioniq EVs make it here next year the choices will get even better. 

    First, the Mustang Mach-E. Yes, I know it’s not a real Mustang, though the people who make Mustangs should get to decide that, if you ask me. But put some duct tape over that desecrated galloping horse and you’ll see a stylish, muscular shape enclosing a spacious, nicely made interior and a peppy powertrain.

    Ford is using its latest EV platform, which means the 70 kWh battery offers 270 miles of range and can fast charge using the FordPass charging network (a collection of several other networks like EVGo and Electrify America with 12,000 charge stations) roughly as fast as a Tesla. It’s fun to drive and is roomier and easier to get in and out of than the Model 3 as well. 

    Ford’s late to the EV game, so Mach-E buyers are due the entire $7,500 tax credit, which will be in the form of a point-of-sale rebate if the social-spending bill passes, but since the Ford is made in Mexico there won’t be the union-built bonus.

    Volkswagen’s ID.4 should be attractive to rideshare drivers, at least the well-heeled ones. Like the Bolt EUV, it’s spacious and easy to get in and out of, it has a nice interior and infotainment system, and I thought it was reasonably fun to drive.

    Its fast-charging speed isn’t quite as fast as the Tesla’s or Ford’s, but it’s more than twice as fast as the Bolt—VW claims it’ll charge from five to 80 percent in 38 minutes. Keep in mind EV batteries get too hot to sustain high fast-charge speeds past about 80 percent charge, which means it could take an hour or more to cram that last 20 percent into your battery no matter the brand, perhaps the worst part about remote charging.

    The VW and Ford are good EVs, but the value just isn’t there compared to the Tesla. In addition to having a lot less power and a lot more weight, making for less responsive handling, the ID.4 and Ford base trim is pretty spare compared to the Tesla, so if you equip them like a Model 3Standard Range Plus, with leather-like upholstery, keyless ignition, glass roof, etc, they’re about the same price as the Tesla, even with the federal tax credit…especially after you pay dealer mark-up, which many (but not all) dealers are slapping on. 

    Final Word

    Is doing rideshare in an expensive new EV a good idea? A lot of drivers say “no,” as they view rideshare driving as a job, a job that yields the most profit with minimal up-front spending and operating costs.

    Through that lens, spending too much money on your equipment seems frivolous, but there are a lot of drivers—me included—that have other personal or professional needs that maybe justify spending a little more money on a sweet-ass ride.

    My calculations show that even though it probably won’t make you more money, it won’t cost too much more and the psychological boost from the added comfort, fun, convenience, and yes, smugness from driving an EV is something you can’t put a dollars-per-mile cost on. 

    If you’re not ready to buy a rideshare vehicle yet, check out our list of recommended rental options for drivers here.

    Drivers, would you get an EV to drive for Uber or Lyft? Why or why not?

    -Gabe @ RSG


    Earn Free Gift Cards For Uploading Receipts


    Here's an extremely popular cash back app that is growing like crazy right now and this app offers plenty of opportunities to earn cash back on everything you buy from any store.

    Sign up here or read our review for more info.

    Get started as a gig worker today! Learn more:
    - Is driving for Doordash worth it?
    - Postmates Driver Pay
    - Instacart Shopper Pay
    - Uber Eats Driver Review
    - Best food delivery service to work for
    - Rideshare insurance


    👉 Do you use an EV to drive for rideshare or delivery? Join our Facebook Group for EV gig drivers for discussions about the current state and future of EVs.

    Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Gabe Ets-Hokin is a veteran transportation professional with over 50,000 trips between taxicabs, Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. He's been writing professionally about motorcycles since 2004 and got into writing about Rideshare in 2015. He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife, son and two bitter, unfulfilled cats.