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The Fair Financing Pilot helps rideshare drivers buy electric vehilces to save gas and maintenance costs.

COURTESY FORTH - Portland-based Forth has announced a program designed to help rideshare drivers purchase electric vehicles. The program intends to help reduce emissions and save money for full-time rideshare workers.Forth, a Portland-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting electric vehicles, has announced a new program designed to help rideshare drivers finance the purchase of EVs for their work. The program is called the Fair Financing Pilot, and the effort includes several area partners.

"What this program aims to do is break down the initial financial barrier to electric vehicle adoption for rideshare drivers," says Forth program manager Barrett Brown. "Electric cars can be ideal for rideshare drivers due to the savings made in fuel costs and lower maintenance."

To implement the program, Forth has partnered with Point West Credit Union, Prosper Portland, and Portland General Electric.

"The Fair Financing Pilot allows low- and middle-income drivers to break out of a cycle of high operating costs and high interest rates," Brown said. "The more money they're putting into gas and vehicle repairs, the less they're bringing home."

Focus on ridesharing

Forth has identified ridesharing as an important market segment for several reasons. First, gas-powered ride-hailing trips have been found to produce nearly 70% more emissions than the personal car trips they replace. Switching to electric cars for ridesharing helps reduce those emissions. For the rideshare operator, EVs offer lower fuel and maintenance costs but can have a high purchase price barrier for an Uber or Lyft driver to make the change. Drivers with poor credit may be charged up to 28% interest on a conventional vehicle loan.

Through the program, Forth connects interested rideshare drivers with Point West Credit Union for a lower-interest loan on a qualifying EV. Interest on Fair Financing Pilot loans is capped at 9.9%.

"The application is directly through point West Credit Union," Brown explained. "The application requires two months or more of consecutive full-time rideshare driving, which can be documented through their apps. Drivers also need to qualify as a low or middle-income, which is based on where they live. With the reserve fund that we've established, we're able to look at more than just credit history and income verification."

Potential savings

Brown offered an example of how the program can benefit rideshare drivers.

"One driver that we're in contact with has switched over to an electric vehicle," Brown stated. "She would put anywhere between 300 and 400 miles on her vehicle at night. That translated into about $250 to $300 on gas per week. Since switching over to an electric vehicle, she's had no repair costs aside from new tires and her charging costs. But through a partnership between Lyft and PGE, they offer a free off-peak charging at their Electric Avenue stations. This driver in particular uses those charging stations exclusively, and isn't paying for charging at all. She reports saving anywhere between $800 and $900 a month, and she uses that to make the payments on her car."

Adding to the savings, qualifying Oregonians can receive a $2,500 rebate on a used electric vehicle and up to $5,000 for a new electric vehicle through the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program.

For drivers who may be concerned about finding charging stations while they work, Portland-based Chargeway.net offers an app that simplifies finding a nearby charging station for any EV.

Find out more

Brown acknowledges that the program might not work for every driver.

"Each driver is unique," he said. "Each driver has their own financial history and set of circumstances. We want to work with them and get them in a financially competent place, and then present these numbers to them and demonstrate that there is a huge potential of cost savings here. We're not trying to force anyone into electric vehicles, but we can go through the numbers and point out that there is a considerable cost savings to be had here."

The Fair Financing Pilot program is initially available only in the Portland metro area, but Forth hopes to expand the offer into select cities throughout the region in the future.

Forth has an introductory page for the Fair Financing Pilot on the organization's website. Visit forthmobility.org/why-electric/rideshare-drivers for information about the program and to contact Forth and make an application.


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