Electric Road Trip

For EVgo, electric ride-sharing has potential

LOS ANGELES — On the rooftop of a shopping center in Los Angeles, several EVgo fast chargers are reserved for electric ride-sharing and ride-hailing drivers.

When we visited the parking lot last Friday, no one was there.

The problem is, we came too late, said Jonathan Levy, EVgo's vice president for strategy, who appeared alongside LA's mayor at the ribbon-cutting for the chargers last spring. Drivers come during their lunch hour and then go back to work, and we arrived after 3 p.m.

The short and sweet of it, Levy said, is that there's plenty of room for growth in LA, where ride-sharing services and ride-hailing giants like Lyft and Uber are as busy as in any other major city. And EVgo has a big partner in and around Tinseltown: General Motors.

The GM-owned ride-sharing platform, which is called Maven, finds people who are willing to rent out their cars. Drivers who choose the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt can get two weeks' worth of free charging at EVgo's stations.

Levy, a Department of Energy official during the Obama administration, was cagey about how EVgo makes out in its partnership with Maven. "It's B2B," he said, using shorthand for business-to-business. "We bring the load. They bring the drivers."

In any case, Levy said, the larger strategy is to promote electric vehicles. "The biggest exposure for us is EV adoption," he said.

Unveiled last April, EVgo's LA fast-charger hubs were the first in the nation to be reserved for ride-sharing and ride-hailing. Regardless of whether that "dedicated charging" model holds promise, California transportation policy officials are focusing their attention on the volume of cars on the road dedicated to picking people up and dropping them off.

Some of that policy focus is derived from a new California law. Legislators required the state to start measuring how many tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being emitted by the expanding number of ride-hailing and ride-sharing cars on the street.

Electric Road Trip

E&E News reporters take a 6,000-mile road trip in an electric vehicle to explore how the switch from gas to electric transportation will change the economy, environment and daily life of America.
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