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Electric Vehicles Join The On-Demand Economy

Call it the on-demand economy, on the move and electric. Literally.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Aric Ohana, co-founder of Envoy, said the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) will have some tailwind from the sharing economy. Envoy provides users with on-demand, shared EVs for a host of communities — spanning hotels, apartments, offices and other locations — through a concept termed “mobility as an amenity.”

In terms of mechanics, users download the Envoy mobile app, creating accounts with driver’s licenses and credit cards (for payments), using codes tied to a property/location across the firm’s platform, and reserve a vehicle for a range of time, measured in minutes, hours, or for a daily stretch. The company’s fleet is also complemented by charging stations.

Drilling down a bit, said Ohana, the platform offers a range of EVs, from the Tesla Model X to a Fiat 500e, with hourly price ranges (per the company’s site) that span $9 to $27.

Ohana told PYMNTS that “the idea of sharing a vehicle within community makes a lot more sense than publicly accessible shared mobility.” With a nod toward specific communities — Envoy is operating within 120 communities at present — he said student housing might dovetail well with a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt, while a higher end apartment complex would be more the provenance of a Tesla.

At a high level, the second-highest cost of living (after housing itself, of course) is tied to the personal cost incurred in owning a vehicle. And in the midst of the pandemic, he said, “what we’re seeing is people looking to give up their second car — going from a two-car family to a one car family, and also, potentially, not owning a vehicle at all.”

EVs On The Doorstep

Ohana contended that Envoy is providing EVs at the literal doorstep of these individuals — and the convenience factor trumps actually owning a vehicle. The guiding principles for Envoy, he added, have been that, through the shared, on-demand aspect of the fleet itself, the experience has to be as convenient as outright car ownership; it must be as reliable as owning a vehicle; and it must be less expensive than ownership.

Traditional ride-hailing models fail on at least one metric: They may be convenient and reliable, but hailing an Uber every day can prove expensive. Then there’s the utilization factor; cars sit idle more often than not, said Ohana, and translate into a wasted resource where owners pay, as it were, for square footage that is not always in use.

Ohana told PYMNTS that on-demand platforms such as on offer from Envoy can become a spearhead for adoption of EVs themselves. Trying an EV out at the dealer, for example, is not exactly the same as using an EV to take care of everyday errands.

Users, he said, “are able to go get groceries, they’re able to go pick up the kids from school, go to a doctor. And they can see what it’s like to live with these vehicles.” At present, 30 percent of the company’s bookings are daily bookings.

Looking ahead, he noted that while the company is currently focusing on California, with availability across 10 states and 14 markets, a nationwide rollout will be on the roadmap. With $11 million in series A financing announced late last year, he said, “we believe we can expand fairly quickly nationally over the next two years,” adding that “we believe we can really fulfill the need for mobility across a spectrum of socio-economics, offering everything from affordable all the way up to luxury EVs.”

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