The RideShare Guy Podcast: EVs for Rideshare Drivers

Transcript

Harry Campbell:
So not a lot of people realize this, but a full-time ride share driver will easily put a thousand miles a week on their car, if not more. And that makes them a great candidate for switching to electric vehicles. EVs cost less, so drivers spend less money on gas and maintenance. They last longer, and frankly, they’re more fun to drive. So this sounds like a no brainer, right? Well, today we’re going to chat with someone trying to accelerate this adoption. So if you’re ready, let’s get moving.

Welcome to The Rideshare Guy Podcast, where you will learn about the ride share and mobility industry straight from Harry Campbell, who’s got over seven years experience covering the industry and has talked to tens of thousands of drivers and gig workers. There’s no better place to stay up to date, entertain, and educate, so let’s dive in.

Harry Campbell:
All right. I’m excited to be chatting with Sunil Paul, who is actually the founder of a company called Sidecar. That was the first ride share company back before Lyft was doing it and way back before Uber copied Lyft. And I’m excited to have him on because he’s got a new company called Spring Free EV and as you may have guessed, from the name, he’s actually looking to get EVs, more EVs, tens of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of EVs into the hands of ride share drivers, car share owners, and anyone putting a lot of miles on their vehicle. And a big focus of his is climate change. And so I think EVs are obviously a great way to support a lot of those initiatives when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases and dependency on oil and all that good stuff.

Harry Campbell:
So very cool to have Sunil on, and this is electrification, in general, of vehicle is a topic near and dear to my heart. As I’ll mention on the podcast with Sunil, we’re doing a lot of really cool investments on the EV side. You might have heard a few recent interviews that we did. We talked to Nick Williams from Sally, all about the electrification that they’re doing, Havn, the Jaguar company that is doing electrification of their vehicles. So we’ve got a few podcasts that we’ll link to in the show notes, if you want more EV content. And then we’ve got a ton of really cool EV content that I can tease right now. We have a bunch of EV reviews coming out soon. So we actually gave Hawkins, one of our top EV contributors, our solo top EV contributor, I guess, on top of myself, actually went out and got his hands on a Mach-E and got it on Uber and did a bunch of rides with Uber passengers.

Harry Campbell:
We’ll have some really cool content there and article and a video, maybe I’ll even have him on the podcast to chat about it. But yeah, we’ll have a bunch of cool stuff there. And on today’s episode with Sunil, not only did he found a Sidecar… So we’ll talk a little bit, we’ll talk briefly, I couldn’t help but ask a couple questions about his time at Sidecar and what he thinks of the overall ride share market. But then we’ll dig into his new company, Spring Free EV, kind of how he got interested in this and also how the model works for drivers, right? So how much it costs, where they’re operating, and then how they’re working on the supply side, who’s financing these vehicles. They have an interesting combo that they started off with individuals financing these, and now, they’re looking more towards high amounts of debt, basically, to finance these.

Harry Campbell:
And also, we’ll talk about car sharing versus ride sharing, what they’ve actually seen with ride share drivers. I kind of asked him, “Hey, this seems like kind of a no-brainer to drivers. Is there anything… Why shouldn’t they get an EV if someone is going to finance it for them and they can pay 30 cents per mile?” So we’ll hear his answer to that question. Sunil will also make an announcement about a cool new Free EV, or they call it a Free EV product. And they’re doing a pilot of 100 vehicles and he’ll share a code that you can actually, if you’re in California, you’ll be able to rent one of their vehicles and be part of their 100 car pilot. Appreciate that.

Harry Campbell:
You might be able to guess what the code is, but make sure you enter that if you’re interested. And then I’ll also give Sunil the chance to ask me a question, and he asked me a good one at the end. So hopefully, you guys all enjoy this episode. And as I mentioned, if you’re interested in more EV stuff, we’ve got a ton of articles, a ton of videos. We’ve got the largest Facebook group with over 1600 members of Uber and Lyft EV drivers. And we’ve got a lot going on when it comes to EV. So as always, this episode and show notes can be found at therideshareguy.com. All right, let’s hit the road.

Harry Campbell:
All right. Sunil Paul is a serial entrepreneur and tech veteran with a background in electrical engineering and brings more than 30 years of experience in tech and innovation to the global climate stage. He’s a current co-founder and CEO of Spring Free EV, a startup that aims to electrify fleets across the country with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by one gigatonne by the year 2030. Before launching his latest venture, Paul co-founded Sidecar, which invented modern . He also incubated the car sharing marketplace, get around and made a number of successful investments, including several IPOs such as LinkedIn, all through his venture fund spring ventures. So it’s all to say that… It doesn’t sound like you do too much. You must be a very free guy, huh, Sunil? How are you?

Sunil Paul:
I’m doing great. Harry, it’s great to be on your podcast and on your videocast after I’ve known you for a while, because of the world.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah, definitely. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I love the podcast, because it sort of gives a good excuse for us to like, “All right, let’s actually sit down, let’s have a real conversation.” Otherwise, obviously, everyone’s busy and we’re emailing and doing quick calls and stuff like that. But I have to say that your new company is something that I’m really interested to dig into because electrification and the crossover of ride hail and electrification specifically, I think, has massive opportunities. We’re making a lot of interesting content, investments, and doing some work there, so I’m excited to chat with you about that. But I think we have to start with your last company, Sidecar, right? I think I tell people that you are… What do I say? I call you the founder of , is that accurate?

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. I think there were other people, of course, involved in the process. It’s never a solo thing, but Sidecar created the first ride sharing, ride sharing as we know it today.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
We were the ones who kind of came up with a model. The TNC rules are based on what we put together, and even things like UberPool and shared rides is something that we were the first ride sharing platform to roll it out. Certainly, Sidecar was the creator of it. And it’s 10 years, 10 years in February.

Harry Campbell:
Oh, wow.

Sunil Paul:
Since-

Harry Campbell:
I just-

Sunil Paul:
… the first ride.

Harry Campbell:
Interesting. I just got a notification on LinkedIn that I started The Rideshare Guy eight year, eight year anniversary. So I’m a couple behind you and it’s not often that I meet someone who’s been in the industry longer than me, so that’s cool. And I don’t know if I ever told you, I was actually a Sidecar driver. Did you know that?

Sunil Paul:
I did not know that. That’s so awesome.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. I think I signed up for Lyft first. Uber paid me $500 to come over in a parking lot and do one ride, signed up for Uber, and then I signed up for Sidecar. I believe I like sidecar because you guys had a lot of these really innovative features at the start, right? Couldn’t you set your own radius and do a lot of cool stuff like that?

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. The whole philosophy behind Sidecar was to give more choice to drivers and to riders. And it sadly was not enough to overcome the huge amount of capital and the other kind of disadvantages we had. But look, we were very innovative and we moved really, really fast. And I have to say, it’s been a long time now, I learned a lot of lessons out of it all.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
One of them was the broad lesson out of, frankly, ride sharing and car sharing. Improving the efficiency of transportation is not going to result in a net reduction in emissions in greenhouse gases. Because the original theory that I had with car sharing and ride sharing was that we could improve efficiency and that that would reduce emissions. And if anything, it’s probably gone the other direction.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. That’s an interesting point. I think, especially, and I think the founders of Lyft, I think, at least they share a public, a similar sentiment that that was sort of some of their goal, actual ride sharing. Here I am, I’m calling myself The Rideshare Guy, and obviously, occasionally, someone comes up to me and they’re all mad and they’re like, “It’s not ride sharing.” I’m like, “Yeah, I know, relax. It’s just a good sounding name. It sounds good. I’m not tied to it.” But if you ever want to do a full episode on Sidecar, we could do that, but I guess my last thing here, what are your thoughts on the current state of the ride share industry?

Sunil Paul:
It is, obviously, the big thing that’s happened this pandemic. And I think the whole industry is still recovering from that world. I do think that, eventually, the sort of pooled ride kind of concept will be back. I think that will help on emissions, and hopefully, will help with driver earnings.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
Just because getting more people in the vehicle is good for both sides, as long as the platforms are willing to compensate drivers fairly for it.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
So yeah, I think there’s progress. Honestly, the other big dynamic that’s at work is that Uber and Lyft are now public companies. And so the pressure to get to profitability is much greater. It makes them much, much more focused. They’re no longer Uber in particular, no longer spending money on stuff that kind of either is never going to pay off or won’t pay off for a very, very long time. They’re much more focused on how do they get to profitability and avoid making big investments. So I think that… The bad news for drivers though in that scenario is that one of their leverage points is kind of squeezing the driver more. And so it’s one of many leverage points. There’s also increasing prices.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
I mean, look, also, I think the increase in regulation is frankly good for the incumbents. One of the things that happens is once you become regulated, it’s much more difficult for a startup to enter and compete.

Harry Campbell:
They call it regulatory capture for a reason, right? So-

Sunil Paul:
Yeah.

Harry Campbell:
Interesting. Well, so you started this ride share company 10 years ago, and I feel like after most people get a taste of it, they don’t want much more, they’re kind of done with it, but something made you want to come back and start another company in the ride share space. Not a ride share company, but in the adjacent space. So tell us what made you want to come back and let’s dig into Spring Free EV.

Sunil Paul:
Sure. Well, I said earlier, one of the big lessons learned is that car sharing and ride sharing and gig delivery did not result in the reductions in emissions that I was hoping for.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
And honestly, for those of you who are in the Bay Area, everybody remembers the day of orange, this kind of apocalyptic day where wildfire smoke just made the sky impenetrable and the sky was orange. Anyway, that day, along with other wildfire days in the Bay Area just made me realize I got to do more. I cannot just do what I do normally or had been doing, which is investing and board and helping others, that I really need to leverage my experience in ride sharing and my experience in car sharing, my now decades of experience operating.

Sunil Paul:
And also, I’m an optimist. So I am not the one who’s going to sit around and just cry about it. How do we do something? So Spring Free EV was kind of born out a lot of that passion. And what we’re doing specifically is we’re trying to get to big climate impact. And by big climate impact, we think, with this set of innovations, that we can get to one gigatonne, 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide reduction in the next eight years. That is a audacious goal, and we can get there.

Harry Campbell:
Sounds like a lot.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. And the way we get there is by taking advantage of the electric vehicle and how it is so much better economically. So there’s kind of three things that are better about the electric vehicle from economic standpoint.

Harry Campbell:
Okay.

Sunil Paul:
They cost much less to operate. Fuel and maintenance is much lower than in a gas powered car. They interact with a grid, right? In other words, they get charged. Today, they mostly just get charged, but what is coming is the ability to get a signal from the grid and not charge at the right times to be responsive to what the grid needs. And ultimately, to be able to feed electricity back into the grid.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
What’s known as V2G, vehicle to-

Harry Campbell:
I think the new F-150 does something like that, right?

Sunil Paul:
It does something like that. Yeah. It allows you to power tools-

Harry Campbell:
Power your house.

Sunil Paul:
… and power your house, theoretically. It has enough power and energy to be able to power your house. And then the third kind of economic disruption is that electric vehicles are going to last much longer than a gas powered car. We’re taking those three economic disruptions and packaging them into FinTech products. And from a driver’s perspective, it’s effectively a kind of financing product. And what it looks like is as a customer, you’re going to pay cents per mile. Those cents could vary anywhere from say 10 cents a mile up to 30 cents a mile. And frankly, maybe a little bit more for specific situations.

Harry Campbell:
Now, that’s based on where you’re driving? Or…

Sunil Paul:
It’s based on the number of miles you do.

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha.

Sunil Paul:
It’s based on the price of the car and-

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha.

Sunil Paul:
Those are the two big variables right now.

Harry Campbell:
Okay.

Sunil Paul:
Ultimately, I think it’s also going to depend on other behavior, for example, your compatibility with grid and all that, but that’s down the road. And so we use that fee per mile, which is affordable because the cost of operating the car is so much lower than a gas powered car, paying per mile actually makes sense. And we use that to make the monthly fee, the monthly rental, or the monthly lease payment much lower than it would be otherwise, so that’s the-

Harry Campbell:
Got it.

Sunil Paul:
… core idea [inaudible 00:14:06].

Harry Campbell:
So on the driver side, it seems pretty simple. I’m basically paying a per mile fee to rent this vehicle, this EV from you, so 10 to 30 cents, even 30 cents a mile is pretty reasonable, to be honest. We’ve got a calculator on our site and I feel like, usually, 10 to 30 is on the lower side, so that’s interesting. And I think what you’re hitting on too is the fact that right now, gas prices are high and there’s all these issues. A full-time ride hail driver will easily do a thousand miles a week on their car, maybe even up to 1500 if they have to commute in and out an hour every single day. But none of them have the cash to buy an EV or to even finance an EV because maybe they have low or no credit or put a down payment. And it sounds like you guys are trying to arbitrage that difference basically, like ride hail drivers are the perfect candidate for EVs, but they don’t have the money to get in, maybe is the quick way of saying it, huh?

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. Thank you, Harry. We’re going to start using that.

Harry Campbell:
I was about say, if you need a marketing man, if you need a marketing person, we should chat later, but that becomes your slogan and you guys become a multi-billion dollar company, you can buy me a beer.

Sunil Paul:
Good deal. EVs are very expensive, right? They cost anywhere from 20 to 50% more than the gas powered equivalent car. And so you need some way to… If we’re going to get to these big goals, climate goals, we’ve got to get the heavy drivers, starting with car sharing and ride sharing, get heavy drivers using these products. And so this is a solution, this is a way to make it happen. I should point out that right now, today, our product’s actually designed for car sharing hosts. So if you go to our website, springfreeev.com, that, what you’ll see is primarily around car sharing hosts. So if you’re on Turo or Getaround or HyreCar, or you have a small rental business that you’re renting out directly, we offer a great way to expand your fleet. And that product, we call InstaFleet, because you can-

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha.

Sunil Paul:
… expand your fleet. Now, we’re going to launch a new product this fall that we call Free EV. And that’s specifically targeting ride sharing and gig delivery.

Harry Campbell:
I’m curious on the car sharing point for a second. Are those guys putting a ton of miles? Is it a good idea if I’m a car sharing person on Turo and it’s like, “Wow, these guys that I’m renting to are putting a lot of miles on, I should switch to EV and see a big improvement in my numbers?”

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. First of all, there’s a lot of miles typically and not as much as ride sharing gig, but someone doing 24,000 to 36,000 per year is not uncommon. And electric vehicles are already, Teslas in particular, are already the top performance cars-

Harry Campbell:
High demand. Gotcha. Interesting.

Sunil Paul:
… on Turo. So it’s already a great fit just from a pure demand, forget about all the operating [inaudible 00:17:06].

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha. Yeah. Okay. I bet the combo of those two, yeah, kind of makes it a no brainer, huh? Even think how many people drive Teslas, right? When you rent a car now, it’s hard to not drive a Tesla when you rent a car. I have a Tesla and when I go rent a normal car, I’m like, “Oh, my God, I hate this car,” right? So I can imagine there’s… You kind of give me the idea I should go rent a Tesla next time on Turo when I need them.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. Yeah. And we’re also now, especially on HyreCar, host or offering the new Nissan LEAF, which-

Harry Campbell:
Okay.

Sunil Paul:
… actually has-

Harry Campbell:
[inaudible 00:17:35] higher range, I think.

Sunil Paul:
Has higher range and is actually a pretty good fit for delivery and for ride share.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
Because it’s a more affordable-

Harry Campbell:
You can have the new one at a 170 mile range or 60. Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. That’s the base model. And we typically offer the plus that has over 200 mile range.

Harry Campbell:
Oh, cool.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah.

Harry Campbell:
Cool. So you have an interesting sort of financing, right? So I think it’s actually pretty clear from the driver’s side, if I’m renting, if I’m an Uber or Lyft driver and I want to rent a vehicle from you guys, I pay a fixed cent per mile. And you talked about all the reasons why that makes sense. I think we’re pretty aligned there. And so I guess talk a little bit about, like you said, EVs are expensive, so how are you buying them? And I know that you’ve got some financing. Feel free to explain, basically, I guess you would call this the supply side of your marketplace.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. Well, for starters, as most people know, it’s really hard to get cars these days. I mean, used car prices are sometimes more expensive than the new car price. And so we’ve focused more on new cars. We have three strategic partnerships. One is with Cox Automotive, and that’s mostly for used cars. Cox Automotive, it’s not a household name, but they process more cars than anyone else, 6 million a year, mostly through Manheim. The consumer brand that everyone knows is Kelley Blue Book. They own Kelley Blue Book as well as Autotrader and lots of other brands.

Sunil Paul:
Anyway, we have a partnership with them, but then for new cars, we work with factory relationships with Nissan LEAF and with Tesla for Tesla vehicles. And we’re working on other OEMs as well. So that’s literally giving the cars, but we buy the cars and we arrange financing from what are currently a bunch of high net worth and individuals that buy the vehicle. And then we’re leasing it out, so lease payments are going back to them. We don’t actually take those-

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha.

Sunil Paul:
… lease payments. We’re now out talking to investors about getting a large facility to ramp that up in a major fashion.

Harry Campbell:
Okay. So I think the interesting part to me was… So basically, it’s sort of like in, I guess, at the start you use these high net worth individuals to finance as normally when people go out and I guess if you buy a fleet of a hundred cars at 50,000. Never do math live, I don’t know what that would be, a lot of money.

Sunil Paul:
[inaudible 00:19:58]. The answer, a lot of money.

Harry Campbell:
$5 million, right? And so you would go and try to get someone to lend you that money basically and you have to put, I don’t know, 20 or 30% down, is that kind of that model. I guess it sounds like you’re doing kind of a combo of both. What are you kind of gravitating towards in the future?

Sunil Paul:
There’s kind of a FinTech playbook now of going, starting with individuals, moving up to stations.

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha.

Sunil Paul:
And then ultimately, we offer public. Everyone knows about going public as a stock, but there’s also offering public debt. And in this case, something called an asset backed security. So Solar was able to get to an asset backed security within about three years after they got to a $50 million chunk of loans. And actually, in that case they were Solar leases and PPAs. And David Arfin, the guy who kind of invented that at SolarCity is one of our backers.

Harry Campbell:
Cool.

Sunil Paul:
So that’s our trajectory is go to institutions then to asset back securities, or ultimately, a bank. Because our goal is to simply get the cost of capital, the rate that we’re charged, lower and lower, because we literally just take the capital and whatever price of capital that is, we translate that to a price for car share hosts-

Harry Campbell:
Right.

Sunil Paul:
… or for ride share drivers. When we can get this to be cheaper, this price becomes cheaper. And so we’re just trying to keep, turn that crank and get to cheaper and cheaper and cheaper until we can get to a much… So basically, prices except for inflation, prices should get [inaudible 00:21:39].

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. Makes sense. So can you give us a sense of where and how the business is operating right now and how many cars? Or whatever you want to share there.

Sunil Paul:
Sure. We have been expanding since about a year ago is when the first cars went out, again, to car sharing hosts, also to some startups that are doing similar kind of services. And we’ve been ramping up ever since then. We have deployed well over a hundred cars at this point and are gearing up to do a launch of 2000 vehicles for ride share and gig drivers this fall. So that’s kind of the trajectory we’re on. The goal here is to 10 X the scale of what we’re doing every year for the next three years, and then double, which sounds… Well, and it is totally doable. It is totally doable.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. What’s the limiting factor to your growth right now?

Sunil Paul:
We’re out talking today and yesterday and tomorrow and the day after about two different sources of capital.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
It’s a category that I know a little bit about.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
Because-

Harry Campbell:
2000 cars times $50,000 a car, right? Because EVs are expensive, that’s a hundred million dollars, right?

Sunil Paul:
Right.

Harry Campbell:
And obviously, it’s a little different because it’s financing, right?

Sunil Paul:
Right. But we are-

Harry Campbell:
But it’s still, someone does need to pay a hundred million dollars.

Sunil Paul:
Someone has to pay a hundred million dollars, that’s right. That’s right.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. I think what’s so interesting on the fleet side is that… I don’t know, 2000 cars, it seems like a big fleet, but then you put the price tag on, it’s a hundred million dollars worth of cars. It’s like, “Wow. That seems like a lot of money,” right? Versus 2000 cars doesn’t seem like it would cost that much. But obviously, when you do the math, it’s pretty easily that, if not more.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. Well, that’s why we end up deploying more than a hundred million this year and one to two billion next year.

Harry Campbell:
Cool. Well, let’s talk a little bit about deploying these vehicles into ride share drivers. How ride share drivers right now are using these vehicles from you guys and what have your initial findings been?

Sunil Paul:
So almost everybody who’s using it as ride share or gig is doing it through the HyreCar platform or through-

Harry Campbell:
Gotcha.

Sunil Paul:
… one of our customers is coming called Flux. And many of their customers are ride sharer or gig drivers. So what we’re finding is the original hypothesis was they’re going to do a lot of miles. And I think an important hypothesis is that they’re going to pay, despite concerns about credit quality. And we’ve actually seen very good payment records and mileage is definitely there. So all of that’s is kind of panning out. As we scale, we want to avoid the disasters that Uber in fare had. That’s like an overhang over the-

Harry Campbell:
I get that Uber had once with their exchange leasing and then kind of times two with fare in combo that time.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. That was a utter disaster.

Harry Campbell:
What went wrong with those programs in your mind that you guys are looking to avoid?

Sunil Paul:
Well, I think the biggest thing was going on was Uber had ridiculous amounts of money. Honestly, it’s all about leadership and the choice of who runs these things and their attitudes, because it all kind of flows from the top. And anyway, I don’t think I need to say anything more than that.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. Well, I guess one thing that I saw personally, we worked with, we sent a number of drivers to exchange leasing. We sent a number, we sent a lot of drivers to fair. And I think one thing that I saw with a lot of these high growth, when you get into the vehicle space, if you screw up, it’s going to cost a lot of money. We just talked about how expensive cars are, right? So one thing that I saw was that a lot of the folks, they were so focused on expanding the top of the funnel, they’re getting people into these cars who didn’t understand this is not a solution for a part-time driver, if you’re going to have a weekly rental, right?

Harry Campbell:
There’s even doing rentals by the day or something of that nature, right? If you don’t have a car, how do you get to and from the car, right? You kind of want it for weeks or months at a time and then you need to be ready to drive, right? You got to be ready to put honestly, 30 or 40 hours a week. If you’ve got a fixed two, $300 a week payment, I think in your model, if it’s kind of based on the miles, it might be a little bit different, but that was the one thing that I saw. They weren’t getting the right people in… It wasn’t all the right people for the right product, basically.

Sunil Paul:
I think they also ended up in a vicious spiral of they charged a lot, relative to just getting a lease or whatever, or a loan, which are more appropriate for ride share. And they kind of attracted a lot of those people who couldn’t afford a car, so they tended to be deep subprime, so terrible credit combined with overpricing. So anybody who was able to get out of that vicious cycle and get themselves into a better situation economically, they did it. And those that couldn’t afford just [inaudible 00:26:44]-

Harry Campbell:
That’s good point.

Sunil Paul:
… so you ended up with worse and worse drivers, and…

Harry Campbell:
It’s almost like if you were successful in that program, you’re going to get rid of it. And if you’re not successful in that program, you’re also going to get rid of it. So it’s like what customers do you have left, right?

Sunil Paul:
Right. And so look, our attitude is very different. We are looking for drivers who treat… First of all, we have a path to ownership for the vehicle. We’re not looking to kind of hook someone onto a car payment that they never ever can get rid of, which is frankly the deep subprime attitude is-

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
… super high rates that you just can never get rid of and you’re constantly underwater on the price. It probably helps to understand what is our top goal. Our top goal is have impact on climate. And in order to have the top goal, we want vehicles out there and we want them in the hands of high mileage drivers. In order to make this whole thing work, we have to make the financial equation work, which means we have to have people who pay their bills, which means we need… So we need high mileage people who pay their bills. And that allows us to continue to raise more capital, continue to bring the price of capital down. And so we’re very conscious of that. And so the deep subprime person who’s just had their car repossessed is not going to be a good candidate.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. So any issues that have come up with the drivers, you’re telling them, I guess, through HyreCar and Flux that you’ve got these EVs available for them. And is this kind of a slam dunk with gas prices so high now and everyone obviously-

Sunil Paul:
Yeah.

Harry Campbell:
… likes driving Evs, is it kind of like, “Hey,” a no-brainer or are some people saying, “I don’t want to do this and here are the reasons why?”

Sunil Paul:
It’s mostly a no-brainer. I can tell you the things that we hear that are driving adoption are gas prices and lower cost of operation, just lower maintenance, less hassle.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
And also just wanting to be part of the future and trying to be environmentally sustainable. We all are so much more aware of the impact that our own personal actions have. And so I’d say those are the three big reasons. Easily, the biggest thing that I hear as a reluctance is that they don’t have charging where they live. So if you live in an apartment building and the landlord hasn’t been willing to put in charging, that’s an obstacle. What’s helping is that there’s a huge investment in public infrastructure, so that there’s charging either overnight charging that’s close to where people live or supercharging, fast charging, that is kind of out and about. And so look, we’re saying [inaudible 00:29:22]… When we announced our Free EV product, within a week after we announced that thing, we had 500 people on the wait list.

Harry Campbell:
Wow.

Sunil Paul:
There’s a lot of demand for this. And so we’re excited about it. Harry, I’d love to let people know about special offer that is only for people who are watching-

Harry Campbell:
Let’s do it.

Sunil Paul:
… this or are listening to this.

Harry Campbell:
That’s what I’d like to hear.

Sunil Paul:
So this Free EV products, we’re launching in the fall, but we’re gearing up to do a pilot. So 2000 vehicles in the fall, but we’re going to do a pilot of 100 vehicles. And we’re going to basically do it for people who are listening to this podcast or watching this YouTube video. All you got to do is when you go to springfreeev.com, or if you can see the button that says Free EV or you just go to the-

Harry Campbell:
Yeah, we’ll put a link in the show notes too.

Sunil Paul:
… freeev.-

Harry Campbell:
freeev.springfreeevcom. And we’ll put a link too.

Sunil Paul:
But then put in the promo code, RSG, Rideshare Guy, RSG. And that will get you into this pilot.

Harry Campbell:
Cool.

Sunil Paul:
That’s only a hundred cars, so we’re not going to be able to…

Harry Campbell:
Is this California only?

Sunil Paul:
And it’s California only. When we roll it out in the fall, it’ll be a lot more markets, all the details are on the website. And there are some restrictions, right? Like currently, you need to be 25 years or older. You do need to do a lot of miles and you need to be on one of the major platforms or more than one major platform.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah.

Sunil Paul:
So yeah, look, this is… I’m excited about all the traction and I’m also-

Harry Campbell:
Cool.

Sunil Paul:
… excited to do this with Rideshare Guy.

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. No, I think we’ve seen a lot of interest in EVs, obviously, because of the reasons you mentioned, with high gas prices and we’ve been investing a lot in reviewing different EVs. We’ve got a really cool Ford Mach-E review. We took it out and got one of our EV contributors, took it out on Uber and did some Uber driving with the Mach-E and that article on video. And we’ve also got, I think, around 1600 people in our EV Uber and Lyft driver Facebook groups. I’m sure we’ll get some good interest there. I want to give you the opportunity to ask me a question too, to round out this podcast. So anything you’re curious about or anything you have been wanting to ask me? And we’ll give you the mic for a second.

Sunil Paul:
Well, you have seen the ups and downs, ins and outs of this industry, almost from the very, very beginning. Only a few years after it started.

Harry Campbell:
You got a few years on me.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. So what’s your perspective on what… Not where things are headed, but where things should be headed. Where should we be heading with the ride share and gig economy drivers? And just overall, where should we be headed? But I think, in particular, where should we be headed for drivers?

Harry Campbell:
Yeah. I think overall where we’re headed is… I think where we actually are headed is kind of where I think we should be headed where we’ve got Uber and Lyft and you’ve got a bunch of specialized ride share services and you’ve got a whole bunch of other options in the last mile delivery space. Honestly, there’s a pretty big breadth of opportunities and different companies and I think plenty of competition, so I like how things are looking on that side of the coin. And then I think as far as drivers, obviously, they call it a job for a reason, right? Most jobs kind of suck, right? Most people don’t like jobs. And so I think when you think about the gig economy, there are positives and negatives like any other job. I am a pretty staunch, I guess, you would say defender of the fact that I think there are more positives than negatives when it comes to working in the gig economy.

Harry Campbell:
There aren’t many jobs, you can go on Uber right now. We just did a video with Uber and they now, in three hours or less, you can get approved to drive for Uber Eats and go make a delivery and then cash out that money instantly. It might not be a whole lot of money, but I can’t think of another job in the world where you could be sitting on your couch and four hours later have money in your pocket, right? So I think that’s sort of my overall view, not to say that there aren’t negatives. And I think that Uber, and really Uber, because they’re sort of the market leader in a lot of this and all the other… Uber did their gas surcharge, and basically, Lyft copied them, DoorDash copied them, Instacart copied them. They’re definitely the clear leader in a lot of this. And I think that today, for a while, they kind of had the run of things, whether it was pricing, whether it was supply, whether it was regulatory.

Harry Campbell:
And I think they kind of took a little too much at advantage of it. And now, in places like California, they pushed back. And I think, ultimately, we’re going to see this model where workers start to get some more protections, a quasi earning floor in the state of Washington, just past an actual minimum wage. New York City has a pretty strong minimum wage. We’re seeing more protections for drivers. I think they’re definitely going to stay independent contractors, but I feel like the job is actually getting, slowly, better and better. And the sort of structural problems, there’s always going to be people complaining that they’re not making enough money and I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot you can do about it.

Harry Campbell:
But I guess, I, myself, have built a business predicated on the fact that, “Hey, if you want to do this job, we’re going to help you do it better. We’re going to help you make more money,” because there really is that variability, whether it’s earnings, whether it’s on the expense side, right? Like driving an EV, if you can get yourself into an EV and do 60,000 miles a year in an EV versus 60,000 in a four door Toyota Camry, you’re going to make a lot more money, right? Because your expenses are now lower. So that’s sort of where I think, I guess, we are and should be headed.

Sunil Paul:
Yeah. Cool. Well, I agree with a lot of that.

Harry Campbell:
Cool.

Sunil Paul:
It’s a great addition to the overall economy and it needs improvement. It needs improvement.

Harry Campbell:
Yep.

Sunil Paul:
And that positive.

Harry Campbell:
Definitely. Cool. Well, I’m really excited for your company and I appreciate you giving out the RSG code for any folks in California who want to do this 100 car pilot. I’m sure we’ll get some takers there. And if folks want to learn more about you, follow your work, I’ve got your website, we’ll put all this in the show notes, but where should they go and what should they look out for?

Sunil Paul:
sprinfreeev.com is the first place to start. We get all kinds of interesting blog and material. If you’re a ride share driver, you can sign up for the pilot and get in, use the promo code. If you’re a car share host, you can sign up for InstaFleet. You can follow me on LinkedIn, post regularly there. Twitter, I do post there, but I really-

Harry Campbell:
You got it.

Sunil Paul:
… I’m primarily a LinkedIn person. And this world is going to change so much with electric vehicles. And it’s exciting and I’m excited to share it with people through LinkedIn and through… You can sign up a mailing list, things like that, on the website as well.

Harry Campbell:
Cool. Well, really appreciate all the work you’re doing here and love seeing more options and products when it comes to vehicles for drivers, and especially, if they’re EV, so thank you for that Sunil and-

Sunil Paul:
Hey, thank you. This is a lot of fun. Again, a real honor to sit down and talk to you for an extended period of time, it was really fun.

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