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7 min read

    7 min read

    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.

    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.

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    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.

    best electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft drivers

    best electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft drivers

    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

    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.

    best electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft driversBest XL Option: Pacifica PHEV

    Price: $28,000-$40,000               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 electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft driversBest Cheapskate All-Electric Option: Nissan Leaf

    Price: $3,800-$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 133,000 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 $3,800, 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.

    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 electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft driversBest Option for the Brave DIY-er: Tesla Model S 60

    Price: $28,000-$40,000              EV Range: 150-200 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 $30,000.

    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 150-200 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. It may not be the most economical or practical decision, but you will be driving a special and memorable car.

    best electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft driversBest EV: Chevy Bolt EV

    Price: $28,000-$40,000              EV Range: 238-259 miles

    If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you’ll know I’m a fan of my Bolt EV. I’m not a fan of how cheap these cars have gotten, as I bought mine new. Had I waited a year for the 2017s to come of their leases, I would have saved a lot of money. I’m seeing them with fewer than 40,000 miles on Autotrader for under $19,000, but additionally GM is offering $6,500 in cash back on a new one! Combined with the federal tax credit (still $1,875 through the end of 2019) and state and local incentives as well as dealer discounts, you could steal a new Premier model for a net cost of under $25,000.

    You’ll 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?

    It’s not all roses and lollipops with the Bolt. It has a small trunk, a medieval torture device for a driver’s seat, is speed limited to 91 mph and the fast-charger is just 50 kWh, which means it takes over an hour to juice up to an 80 percent charge. Still, even after 20 months and 50,000 miles on the road, I’m still surprised how much I like my Bolt and how efficient and enjoyable it’s been. Happy driving!

    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?

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    -Gabe @ RSG

    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.