Buses aren’t the only thing being electrified in Austin. Car sharing has also been given a battery-powered boost with the launch of Maven Gig, a weekly car rental service for rideshare drivers, food delivery people, and other so-called “gig economy” workers.
Maven Gig has been launched in several cities throughout the country, but Austin is the only city with an all-electric fleet.
Here’s how it works:
Drivers for Uber, Lyft, Ride Austin, Favor, etc can rent a car on a week by week basis from Maven (either because they don’t have a car of their own or don’t want to use their personal vehicle for work). While they’re renting the car, they have full access to the city’s Plug-In EVerywhere charging network, which is backed up by 100 percent Texas wind power.
Right now, the Maven Gig fleet in Austin is still fairly small (20 Chevy Bolts), but according to Karl Popham (manager of electric vehicles & emerging technologies at Austin Energy), it’s likely to expand in the future, especially as the city’s own charging network improves.
And that network is going to be improving pretty soon. Earlier this month, City Council approved $1.2 million to fund the installation of 9 to 10 DC fast chargers throughout Austin. DC fast chargers charge at a rate of 90 miles every 30 minutes (or faster), compared to the 25 miles an hour rate found at most of the city’s charging stations.
Popham says that it’s the deployment of these fast chargers that will really allow businesses like Maven Gig to grow and rely more heavily on electric vehicles. With some additional help from grant funding, the city plans to have 35 DC fast chargers installed by 2020.