Monday, February 07, 2022

EV Carsharing on the move

Forth and Mobility Development partner to launch national EV carsharing program; affordable model for underserved communities

Forth and Mobility Development Group are creating a national partnership to launch the Affordable Mobility Platform (AMP), which will establish electric vehicle (EV) carsharing based at affordable housing sites in at least five states over the next two years. 

In November 2021, Forth was awarded two grants from the US Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the Low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) funding opportunity for the creation of solutions that reduce vehicle emissions and accelerate the expansion of EV infrastructure and charging (DE-FOA-0002475, earlier post). The national programs funded include Forth’s Affordable Mobility Platform (AMP) and the Leadership of Employers for Electrification Program (LEEP).

AMP was awarded $5M over three years and seeks to reduce the barriers to electric vehicle adoption facing underserved communities, particularly residents of affordable housing. 

This carsharing model as it will roll out builds upon the success of the Miocar program in California’s San Joaquin Valley (supported by Mobility Development), as well as Forth’s experience of piloting similar programs in rural Oregon—both efforts received proof of concept funding from DOE in 2019. 

These programs make it possible for people to drive EVs without having to own one, and are based in rural and urban locations where having access to a car can be critical to economic independence. 

The AMP program will concentrate on communities that have early interest in collaboration from local affordable housing developers, utilities and clean energy advocates, based in part on Forth’s work advancing this concept nationally through the Bloomberg American Climate Communities Challenge. 

The first states included in the program are: Oregon, Washington State, North Carolina, Missouri and Michigan. Mobility Development and Forth will seek to grow the program beyond these initial states as the federal government ramps up climate investments through the Justice40 initiative, and as other stakeholders work to accelerate the transition to electric mobility. 

Increasing equitable access to electric cars and charging is central to Forth’s mission. By combining our experience in developing successful national programs on EV outreach, education and access with Mobility Development’s experience with community EV carsharing, our partnership creates an opportunity to build an impactful, affordable and lasting program model. Together, we are working to ensure that those who are often hit first and worst by emissions-based pollution are also included in and involved with new technological advances addressing these issues, while also providing greater access to personal transportation options.

—Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Forth

This partnership allows us to create meaningful impact on a national scale. Our EV carsharing operational experience and background working in marginalized communities, combined with Forth’s deep national network and impressive understanding of federal and state clean energy policy, will allow us to work more dynamically with communities throughout the US.

—Creighton Randall, CEO of Mobility Development

The Affordable Mobility Platform also reflects a larger alignment underway between Forth and Mobility Development. In 2021 the two nonprofits began actively discussing how to combine their expertise to accomplish common goals around equitable transportation more effectively. To solidify their commitment, Mobility Development and Forth recently signed a formal memorandum of understanding, which maps out how the two groups will collaborate to “advance and accelerate the adoption of EV carsharing in low-income, underserved communities.” 

These programs launching through the AMP initiative in 2022 and 2023 will demonstrate how Forth and Mobility Development plan to complement one another in their joint work. Knowledge-sharing between the nonprofits is a core principle laid out in their new partnership, ranging from respective best practices to use-cases that will help guide continuous improvement in their services. The partners seek to drive down the cost of providing nonprofit carsharing services through:

  • A unified software and telematics platform provided by Mobility Development;

  • Purchases of vehicles and insurance coverage that gain from economies of scale;

  • A national bilingual call center for user with limited or intermittent smartphone access; and

  • Support to other communities that are working to develop non-profit shared mobility models.