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EV Leasing Startup Hive is Driven By Sustainability

Jenny Ueberberg

Ridesharing services have their advantages – convenience, fewer drunk drivers on the road – but they aren’t exactly eco-friendly. A study from Carnegie Mellon found that on a per-trip basis, greenhouse gas emissions from an Uber, Lyft, or similar service are about 20% higher than if you drove your own car. The reason is simple: Drivers spend a lot of time waiting for ride requests and motoring between passengers.

That percentage goes much higher if only one rider is involved. A separate study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the average solo ride-hailing trip emits nearly 50% more carbon dioxide than a private vehicle.

The way to solve this problem is for the rideshare industry to move toward electric vehicles (EVs). One company looking to speed up that transition is Hive, a Los Angeles-based EV leasing startup.

Hive aims to disrupt the rideshare industry by making it easier and more affordable for drivers to use EVs rather than gas-powered cars. The company leases EVs to Uber and Lyft drivers on a per-mile cost basis, with the goal of offering a cheaper option than taking out a loan to buy a new EV. 

Hive Co-Founder and CEO Mathias Thomsen claims his company can cut the average income required to get financing for an EV by nearly 40%.

“By lowering barriers to EV adoption for those who drive the most, we unleash a flywheel effect that increases overall demand for EVs alongside both network density and utilization, solving the adoption challenges that have held back EVs and fully renewable EV charging to date,” Thompson said in a December press release.

Photo Courtesy myenergi

Hive memberships are available for a fee, but if drivers reach specific benchmarks – driving for either 60 months or 150,000 miles – they can qualify for free memberships under the company’s “Drive to $0” program.

“The more you drive, the faster the car payment goes to zero. So instead of going under the water on a loan, you’re benefiting,” Thomsen told Reuters in a recent interview.

Drivers also get other perks, including access to more than 10,000 free charging stations in the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco areas; routine vehicle maintenance; and roadside assistance should their cars get a flat tire or dead battery. They also get access to State Farm insurance. Based on the previous day’s earnings, drivers can use Hive’s digital wallet to make daily payments.

As of late 2021, Hive leased only Chevrolet Bolt EVs (238 miles of all-electric range) in California. But the company has plans to broaden its vehicle lineup and expand into other states.

It took a big step toward its expansion goals when it announced a $30 million funding round on Dec. 14. The funding came from an international group of investors, including iSun, Galway Sustainable Capital, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s Impact Fund. Other investors came from the renewables and real estate sectors and aligned with Hive’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) objectives.

The money will let Hive grow its fleet to 1,000 vehicles from 100. It will also give the company a chance to help the rideshare industry operate more sustainably.

Photo Courtesy Malte Helmhold

As Bloomberg reported last year, rideshare leaders Uber and Lyft have set a deadline to transition entirely to EVs in North America and Europe by 2030. But an analysis by BloombergNEF found that as of April 2021, only 0.5% of ride-hailing vehicles in the U.S. were electric. That trailed the 0.7% of EVs in the country’s overall passenger vehicle fleet.

With only one-quarter of new car sales in the U.S. expected to be EVs by the end of the decade, rideshare fleets would have to have an adoption rate 10 times higher than the overall U.S. car market, BloombergNEF found.

Hive has a multi-pronged strategy to help reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. The strategy includes using high-range EVs and modular solar charging technology from iSun. Hive’s near-term plan is to put an initial 1,000 high-mileage EVs on the road and deploy 50 solar-powered chargers.

“The realization of the long-promised climate benefit of EVs is dependent on getting more drivers on a path to EV ownership,” Hive Co-Founder and COO Boyd Bishop said in a press release. “Most EVs today are driven by affluent consumers who charge at home. A multi-dimensional solution is needed to ensure ownership can be achieved more quickly and through a mileage-based model, which is what we’ve developed at Hive.”

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