Share EV — From Rockets To Rental Cars

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Share EV is an electrical vehicle rental company started shortly after the popular Tesla Model 3 was introduced to the Australian landscape. Originally it was a small endeavour to encourage EV adoption by allowing potential EV owners to “try before they buy.” Three years later, its growing fleet has driven over 4 million kilometers with zero tailpipe emissions and it is now cofounder Tim Ryan’s full-time project.

Tim was a successful systems and aerospace engineer when Share EV was founded, having received industry awards and accolades including the 2016 Australia’s Most Innovative Engineer award and the 2018 Australian Industry and Defence Network National Young Achiever award. I felt privileged to conduct his first media interview for Share EV.

Why, I asked, did he decide to leave the aerospace field to run a car rental company? Tim tells me that it has a lot to do with his 5-year-old daughter, concerns about the impact of climate change on her potential future, and his desire to make a tangible difference. Prior to Share EV, Tim was advocating for safer and better-connected infrastructure for micromobility. “If we only moved 10% of people out of single occupancy cars, it would make a huge difference to the overall efficiency of our transport system.” He explained how the concept of payload fraction that he used in aerospace engineering — the weight of what you move divided by the total weight — can affect the efficiency of the whole system. For a single-occupant car, it is only 5%, but a bike or scooter can be 80% or higher.

Tim’s advocacy has included work with local councils. He describes it as a street-by-street fight. “The safety of the bike rider seems to be optional. To make the shift, people need to feel safe from home to their destination point.” Progress is being made, but it is slow, and mainly confined to the inner suburbs. Given the obstacles, Tim predicted he could make more of a difference personally by getting people interested in electric cars through a business, which became Share EV. I agree with him.

Tim’s first experience with an EV was in 2019 when he purchased a Mitsubishi i-MiEV. He only kept the car for 12 months because it had under 100 km of range since the poorly managed tiny air-cooled battery was degraded. Still, having bought it for AU$12,000 and sold it for AU$8,000, he tells me it cost less to own than the money he saved on petrol. In 2020, Tim bought a Tesla Model 3 SR+ and it became clear how good an EV can be. A car with minimal running costs that is fun to drive — this is the way.

He has taken the car on some long trips, including camping in the car at Carnarvan Gorge (over 750 km west of Brisbane). “I had a vision about what could be done with an EV and thought, how can I share this with others?” He realized that the fastest way to achieve change is to give people the opportunity to experience a better product. “How can I get more Teslas and get other people to pay for them?,” he mused. A specialist EV rental business was the answer, starting with competitive short-term rentals but soon expanding into long-term rentals to exploit a key advantage of EVs.

“With an EV, it hardly matters how much you drive them, the running costs are so low and they continue to drive like new.” Many of Tim’s customers are rideshare drivers, who get a trial to confirm they can really earn more driving an EV than a petrol car. “Rideshare drivers can save hundreds of dollars a week in fuel costs, sometimes as much as half the rental cost.” When the business started in 2020, EVs were supply constrained, so Share EV targeted high-milage users like rideshare drivers to get the greatest reduction in emissions per vehicle.

Why go with Share EV and not just buy your own EV, I asked. Tim responded that Share EV goes out if its way to protect the income of the rideshare drivers. Extra layers of redundancy have been built in. The driver will not find themselves off the road and out of pocket. “We are a Tesla specialist, and so if there is a problem with a car, we can get the driver into another Tesla quickly.” There may also be some tax advantages in renting your rideshare car, and Share EV can supply drivers with a charging report to use when claiming the cost of charging. Renting gives drivers the flexibility to drive an EV for long enough to find out if they want to take the plunge to buy one for themselves, and often this is the only reason Share EV’s loyal customers return their EV, to buy their own.

Share EV’s business model has worked amazingly well — from a few cars in 2020, its fleet has grown to 50 in 2023 from multiple market-leading EV manufactures, including Tesla, BYD, and Hyundai. They are aiming to continue their streak of doubling every 6–12 months. Renters can book online at Share EV. Share EV declares its mission is to “engage Australians with the ‘lived experience’ of market leading Electric Vehicles, supporting the transition to Zero Emission Vehicles.”

“We specialise in electric vehicle (EV) short term hires, rideshare and other long-term rentals such as insurance replacement cars,” the company adds. “Our service enables drivers to access the cutting-edge technology of Tesla & electric vehicle rentals, with all the convenience of our Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth locations, and more are on the way.”

Share EV’s Perth associate in Western Australia is a buddy who Tim met at the Space Camp run by the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program.

Tim tells me that he took a gamble on Tesla’s long-term reliability and repairability and built it into the cost structure. Tim’s office is co-located at Drive Accident Solutions, which repaired our Model 3 after a ute backed into it. “I didn’t see you there!” My Model 3 is red for a reason — but it didn’t work that time.

When Tim was juggling his day job and setting up Share EV, he had to design Share EV’s processes as efficiently as possible. He is happy to say that Share EV is now able to employ staff. Share EV has collected charging data for the past 3 years that covers over 4 million electric kilometres.

Running Share EV means that Tim can feel that he is making a difference. It takes some of the sting out of doomscrolling through IPCC reports and news about climate-related disasters and gives him confidence for a better future for his 5-year-old daughter. He hopes she can excitedly play and enjoy her time with friends and family as she grows up and only worry about what song to tell the Tesla to play next!

 


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