Summer’s Here—And it May Be the Best Time to Start Driving an EV!

👉 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.

Summer is here, and gas prices are up. Unfortunately, this may be our new reality given shortages, pandemic recovery, more drivers on the road – the list goes on and on! After a while, getting off of gas entirely may be the best option for drivers to save money. Senior RSG contributor Gabe Ets-Hokin shares why this summer may be your best time to buy an electric vehicle (EV).

One: It’s summer. Two: Pandemic restrictions are lifting like morning fog burning off. Three: Uber and Lyft are hopping. Drivers are reporting higher-than-average earnings, the bonuses are flowing, the apps are bing-ing and boop-ing like they haven’t in years. It’s time to get out and drive—but there’s just one fly in this potentially lucrative ointment: gas prices are higher than they’ve been for years, too.

Gas Prices Are Up: Will They Come Down?

The average price of a gallon of gas in Los Angeles County is at its highest level in six years: $4.26 a gallon! If you’ve got a Prius (like many of our readers) that returns 45 mpg, and you drive 180 miles a day,  that’s about $340 a month you’ll spend on gas. If you’re driving a minivan or SUV for XL, you’ll spend double that or more. In states with lower costs and taxes, it’s still more than what we’ve paid in the past: New York state reports $3.13 a gallon, and even Florida and Texas are seeing prices creep towards the $3.11 a gallon national average.

What’s going on? Well, summer driving season always spikes gas prices, but there’s growing global demand for the product as the world sells more cars and recovers from the pandemic. Experts don’t see it declining much in the near future as the economy rebounds around the world and the refineries, which decreased production during the pandemic, ramp production back up to meet demand.

Save Money on Gas!

We’re all veteran drivers, so we know to make our gas budget stretch.

Don’t know all the gas savings tricks? Check out our article on how to save money on gas!

One of our top recommended ways to save money on gas? Signing up with GetUpside to save on every gallon of gas purchased! Read more about GetUpside at our GetUpside review or sign up for GetUpside here.

We’ve got cash-back gas cards, special offers from Uber and Lyft, and of course, we drive carefully and safely, avoiding drag-race starts or excessive speeds. We also check our tire pressures regularly, which can boost mpg by as much as three percent, and keep our cars tuned by following the factory service guidelines (this can help as much as four percent, too.) Oh, and you can also pay cash to save 10 cents or more per gallon.

There are also the hand-in-hand tools of your smartphone and crowdsourcing. That’s how the Gas Buddy app keeps an eye on gas prices, and it can also save you some bread.  Not only do you get up-to-the-minute pricing on all the gas stations around you, but there’s also a “Pay with Gas Buddy” credit card you can use at participating gas stations, letting you save at least two cents per gallon.

Is an Electric Vehicle (EV) the Solution?

Another way to save money is to just stop buying gas—forever. You can do it with an electric vehicle. I’ve written extensively about driving an EV for rideshare, but suffice it to say, I’m a fan.

Should you get an electric vehicle? There are a few things to consider.

First, you want to know if you’ll save money. That depends on a lot of factors, but the quick answer is probably, especially if gas prices stay elevated. The biggest factors (obviously) are how much you pay for the car, how much you pay for gas, and how much you pay for electricity.

That car price is the biggie. I wrote about using a Tesla for rideshare, and unless you’re doing it for some side-hustle fun, it’s not a good idea. The high cost of ownership and insurance will wick away any fuel savings in a hurry. But go to a Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf and the price is within hailing distance of a similarly equipped Prius Prime—new or used.

Check out our article on the best electric vehicles for rideshare for more options.

The next biggest factor is energy cost. States like Texas or Oklahoma offer pump prices that make California drivers drool, and that can trim the fuel-cost advantage of driving an EV. However, when gas prices are cheap, so are electricity rates! Texans pay 11.36 cents per kWh; Californians pay almost 20 cents. Plug these basic numbers (vehicle cost+energy cost) into a spreadsheet and your savings could be around $14,000 over five years at 40,000 miles a year.

Regardless, the future of cars is electric. Harry recently interviewed Joseph Seal-Driver of Havn, an all-electric chauffeur service based in London, where they discussed this future and how many people (including customers) are focused on an electric future.


The first question people have about your EV is almost always “where do you charge it?” The answer is you charge it at home. Installing what’s called a “level 2” station in your garage or carport is usually less than $1000 including equipment, and there are tax and other incentives to help you pay for it—new Bolt owners even get it done for free. You can also charge on a regular 110 outlet, but that can take 72 hours or more for a full charge.

Once your equipment is set up, it’s easy to plug in at the end of your shift, and you wake up every morning to a full charge. Additionally, utilizing a “time of use” plan can bring your electric bill down by more than half, depending on where you live.

If you can’t charge at home, the bad news is you’ll probably pay more for electricity than gasoline, especially if you use a DC fast-charger. That’s because fast charging away from home is a convenience, and that always costs more. And a final note: don’t use an extension cord!

Bye-Bye Oil Changers

Gasoline cars need much more maintenance than EVs. How much more? Well, the only thing I really need to pay attention to on my 2018 Chevy Bolt is tire rotations, and I’ve found the torque from the car’s electric motor is tougher on tires, so you’ll replace them a bit more frequently.

Other than that, the entire maintenance schedule is cabin air filters (at a cost of $8 and 30 seconds of labor) and battery coolant every 150,000 miles. My brakes are basically new after 68,000 miles, and all that other stuff—timing belts, transmission oil, engine oil and filters, stolen catalytic converters, rusty mufflers, spark plugs—is just an unpleasant memory.

Saving on maintenance is cool—at least a few hundred bucks a year depending on the car—but what’s better is the convenience. An EV is essentially a big battery on wheels, an appliance. Not having to take the time to schedule oil changes and brake jobs means more time working, and more time earning. Not spending 10 or 20 minutes at the end of a shift finding the cheapest gas and filling your tank in a questionable neighborhood at three am…well, you can’t put a price on that.

Is it Time for EVs to Dethrone the Prius?

A lot has been written about the tangible benefits of driving an EV, but the standard narrative usually skips the best features. The big one for me is they’re fun. EVs are great to drive. They accelerate effortlessly, are silent and vibration-free, handle like big golf carts (because they are big golf carts) and offer lots of interior room. My passengers love the EV experience and usually pepper me with questions.

And of course, there’s the whole reason these vehicles exist—environmental concerns. Most of the greenhouse gases causing global warming emitted in the United States are from transportation, and while most of that sector is sources other than passenger vehicles, reducing the use of gasoline and diesel will go a long way towards getting the country to its climate goals. This is a plus for me, but note I list it last—if a car isn’t economical and pleasant to drive, I don’t want it, Al Gore be dammed. In this case, we all win.

What About Incentives?

There are tax credits, state rebates, carpool-lane programs, parking and other incentives to driving electric, and even the rideshare companies have stepped up a bit, too. Uber is paying drivers an extra dollar per ride (up to $4000 a year) with the Uber Green program, although that program ends in September.

Additionally, if the Uber passenger opts for an “Uber Green” ride, you get an extra 50 cents. However, that program is very lightly used (and available in select cities). Still, an Uber driver could make up a lot of the extra initial cost of  EV ownership. Finally, Uber drivers are eligible for discounts up to $11,934 on new 2021 models of the Bolt and Leaf.

Lyft has a bolder commitment to electrifying its fleet, promising zero emissions by 2030, but has done little financially to see that happen, other than a pilot “green mode” program in two cities. Its policy roadmap hints towards discounts on EV charging networks, where Uber does offer its drivers up to a 25 percent discount on the EVGO fast-charge network (with no membership fees) as well as discounts on home charging equipment.

Can You Rent An EV?

If you live in California’s two largest metro areas, there are plenty of EV rental options for rideshare or delivery. Outside these areas, it’s harder to figure out. According to a Reuters article, Lyft offers EV rentals through its Flexdrive program in  “Seattle, Atlanta and Denver, where drivers are able to rent Kia Niro and Chevy Bolt EVs,” and plans to add 100 more in San Mateo, just south of San Francisco. Uber drivers can rent EVs through Avis and Gemini (in Los Angeles) for about $220 a week and get a long-term rental in the San Francisco Bay Area through Flux for just $299 a month (plus 10 cents a mile).

If you live in New York City, you can sign up to drive for Revel, an all-electric rideshare company that uses an employee, not independent contractor, model.

Another interesting rental option is Ample. For $219 a week and 10 cents a mile, drivers can rent a specially prepared Nissan Leaf. It looks like one of the older Leaf models, with a limited (under 107 mile) range, but Ample offers free battery swapping—in “minutes,” the battery gets swapped out for a fully charged one.

It doesn’t make sense to do this right now, as a DC fast charger can add 100 miles to my Bolt in about 30 minutes; the amount of time it’d likely take to drive the Leaf back to one of these swap stations. Still, this could be a thing that works in the future.

Interested in renting a car to drive for Uber or Lyft? Check out our Uber car rental options.

Conclusion: Is an EV for Me?

What kind of car you use for your rideshare or delivery work is a very personal thing for a driver. My experience is that every driver figures out what works best for them. But things change quickly in the automotive world, and what was true 10 or even just three years ago isn’t true today.

Just recently, for instance, GM brought its redesigned Bolt and Bolt EUV to market with a substantial price drop compared to the prior model. California is also planning to re-fund its EV incentive programs, and there may be a new Federal tax credit on the way.

So if you want to drive an EV, this may be the best time to do it…but don’t rush in with rose-colored glasses! Build a spreadsheet, do the research, and know all the costs before you make an expensive commitment. I hope you choose to drive electrons rather than dead dinos, but we want you to make the best decision you can to maximize your profits. Good luck.

Readers, do you drive an electric vehicle for rideshare? If not, what would incentivize you to switch?

-Gabe @ RSG

👉 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.