How I Used Rideshare to Afford a Tesla Model 3 (You Can Do it Too)

So I’ve got a bit of a background in the field of emerging threats — both as a former military intel analyst and as an editor at Janes Information Group back in the early 2000s. And, in my opinion, the biggest threat facing civilization today is a twofold crisis.

Climate Change and the Failure to Use Clean Energy Crisis

We could easily call this crisis climate change — because these are the effects we see around us in the form of melting glaciers, changing seasonal weather patterns, rising seas and more extreme weather. We could easily call it global warming. Because net energy gain through heat trapping gas increase in the atmosphere is causing the Earth System to warm up.

But that’s just the first side of the problem. The ‘what’s happening’ side. The other side of the problem is systemic. It’s also cultural to a certain extent. And it mainly has to do with how we presently use energy to drive a massive global economic system that supports most of the 7 billion people living on the Earth. More importantly, the driver of the vast majority of the global warming we see (in the range of 80 percent or more) is the direct carbon emission coming from fossil fuel burning and extraction. About thirteen billion tons of heat-trapping carbon comes from this primary source and enters the atmosphere each year.

You could also call the climate crisis a harmful energy crisis. But that misses a bit of the story as well. For back during the 20th Century, competing clean energy sources failed to move to the fore. We knew how to generate energy from the sun and from the wind in a carbon-free manner. And we knew how to store that energy. But, mainly due to the fact that the fossil fuel interests held more political and economic power, these clean energy sources got sidelined. Bringing us to the final way that we could characterize this crisis — the failure to use clean energy crisis.

Setting an Individual Policy for Climate Action

It’s at this point in the discussion that we come down to little ol’ me. What’s my level of responsibility? What can I do as a person to help correct this problem. To not contribute to the failure to use clean energy crisis?


(Optimized for zero emissions. My clean energy Tesla [Clean KITT] recharging at a local solar garage. Planning to purchase a Tesla that’s capable of sucking energy direct from the sun? Get up to 5,000 free supercharger miles through this link.)

This has been a big issue for me for some time. I don’t make a huge amount of money. I’m a writer after all. And my wife works for a not-for-profit. Sure, we are probably better off than some. But when it comes to being able to produce the capital to access 40,000 dollar electric vehicles, or a home where I can charge it in the garage, or the 20,000 dollar plus for solar panels and the other 7,000 dollars or so for energy storage at home, all that stuff may as well have been on the moon with me waiting for an Elon Musk rocket to get me there.

Sure the costs had come down. And sure clean energy was more accessible to me than it was before. But it wasn’t accessible enough. I needed just a little extra push to start to get there.

In all honesty, I really wanted to make the push. As a climate change blogger, I’ve been harassed by anti-clean energy trolls for the better part of 7 years. And you can say what you want, but proving trolls wrong can be a powerful motivator. So I wondered what I could do personally to generate enough capital to afford a primary clean energy platform.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. So I’ll just step back and put you in my place during fall of last year. Then, I was looking at a way to individually make a difference for climate change. Sure, we all need to support climate change response policies like Paris, and the Green New Deal. And we, as societies, need to escalate those policies pretty quick if we’re gonna have a real Extinction Rebellion. But as people and individuals, there are things we can do as well to try to correct our failure to use clean energy crisis. We can set our own personal climate policies in place.

For my part, I set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. And as a first step, I settled on getting an electric vehicle. I figured I could cut my family carbon emissions on net by about 2 tons per year including all the typical travel my wife and I engage in. But when I started to think about how I could afford something in the range of 35,000 to 40,000 dollars, I stumbled on the notion of rideshare.

Streetfighting Against Climate Change

You see, a local buddy of mine had been Ubering — even as he worked full time as an electrician. He told me that Uber was really flexible (if you decide to rideshare for clean energy, you can help this blog by using my referral code robertf30288ue). Your work hours were entirely yours to control and there was no commute except for the walk out to your car. I decided to look into it. And after a little research, I found that the average income for an Uber driver in D.C. was just short of 20 dollars per hour.

Now you may be smirking at me through your fingers. For a lot of people, 20 bucks an hour isn’t really much at all. But you have to remember that I’m working from a blogger’s/writer’s baseline that is rather short of that. And if I could somehow combine my writing income with an extra 25-30 hours of Uber income, I could make about 2,000 to 2,500 extra each month. This would be more than enough to cover the cost of a new, long-range electric vehicle.

(Paying for a Tesla using rideshare.)

The idea to then rideshare with the EV to multiply my clean energy system usage was a natural follow-on from this notion. Elon Musk had always talked about a master plan to use vehicle autonomy to achieve this kind of clean energy access multiplication on a mass scale. But what if I could use my basic human gumption to accelerate the process by a year or two or three even as I helped to make the local public more aware of how badass clean energy vehicles had become?

By this point, I had a plan. As many of you who have attempted difficult or ambitious plans before know, the major step is not coming up with a decent idea. It’s executing it. So I set out to, for lack of a better phrase, start busting my tail. This meant that I had to temporarily let go of some of my less lucrative work. Those of you who frequent this blog will attest to the fact that I went dark for a number of months. Mia Culpa! But contrary to one of about a bazillion climate change denier memes — those of us who communicate on the issue of climate change all-too-often don’t make minimum wage back for our time.

So I went dark and worked hard. In doing so, I met a lot of people. And aside from the odd Heritage Foundation pick-up (yes we Uber drivers pick up political org folks in D.C.), I’d say 95 percent of the people I talked to about my project were both concerned about climate change and interested in clean energy advancement. In other words, they were supportive of my goal. Plus they were also pretty geeked out about the potential notion of riding Uber in a Tesla.

As I drove, I also became keenly aware of how expensive it was to operate even an efficient internal combustion engine vehicle like a Hyundai Elantra. The cost of gas alone increased for me by about 250 dollars per month. Add in the new 50 dollar monthly oil change, and I began to get an understanding of how much an electric vehicle could save me later (more on this in a future blog).

How You Can Raise Funds for a Clean Energy Vehicle Through Rideshare

Long story short, after busting my tail, I had enough funds to afford a clean energy vehicle by April. I did this by using the rideshare app Uber. And by saving a portion of the profits to invest in a Tesla Model 3. I have now driven 800 miles in this clean machine. Like so many EV converts, I am never going back.

It is here that we get to the nitty-gritty of this post. How can you make enough money to afford a Tesla Model 3 if you’re strapped for cash like I was? One way is to do what I did — use Uber or Lyft part-time and save the profits for an EV purchase a few months down the road. This works well if you can set aside an extra 10 hours or more per week. And if you have the time, then fantastic! I recommend you give it a shot if you want to gain access to the amazing piece of clean tech that is the Tesla Model 3 and help fight climate change in one go.

Uber destination trips

(Uber destination trips allow you to pick up riders and earn money through the app while driving to and from work. This is a great way to optimize time and earn money for a clean energy vehicle. Image source: Uber.)

Many of us do not have an extra 10 hours a week or more, though. So I’m going to make this additional time optimization suggestion for rideshare usage to purchase a clean energy vehicle. And this suggestion includes the nifty little Uber feature called destination trips. What the destination trips feature allows you to do as an Uber driver is to set a way-point, drive to that way-point, and take trips toward that destination as you drive.

If you’re a regular office worker type, who makes a long drive to work and back, this has huge potential benefits. What it can allow you to do is turn your regular daily commute into a money-making endeavor. Just log into Uber in the morning, set your way-point to your office, drive the usual rush hour drive, and pick up a few rides in on the way to work. You’ll make about 15-20 dollars or more in an average rush. On the ride home, repeat. Now you’ve got an extra 150-200 dollars per week in your pocket to work with. Counting in future gas saved, that’s more than enough to cover the monthly payment on a Tesla Model 3 SR+.

Full disclosure, this will probably increase the time it takes to get to and from work. So plan accordingly. However, all the time during the work commute has now become gainful employment in the service of the clean energy transition. Nice! Of course, if you have a short commute, then such a plan is less optimal. But for our long commuters, this optimization will both enable you to make money while commuting and turn the tables on typical transport energy usage to fight climate change.

Not too shabby!

Now I know that I haven’t provided every little detail in my post. So if you have any questions about how to employ rideshare to help you purchase a clean energy vehicle and get you off the fossil fuel pollution wagon, I will be regularly checking the comments section below. So feel free to ask any question that you might have.

Thanks so much for stopping in! For the next blog post, I’ll be talking about Arctic sea ice as we haven’t had an update on that subject here in a while. Kindest regards to you all! And if you want a riddle for a near future blog post/Radio Ecoshock interview topic it’s a word with a hidden meaning: Lucina.

Extreme Clean — Fighting Climate Change in Daily Life

The climate story of past weeks has grown all-too-familiar. The Central U.S. has been flooded by record rains whose extremity was spiked by the heat trapping gasses still building in our atmosphere. A city of half a million people was devastated by a cyclone feeding off of record warm waters. The oceans continue their rise. The glaciers their melt. The corals their dying. The fisheries their shifting. The seasons their altering. In other words, the climate upon which we all rely for so much is gradually becoming FUBAR.

warmer than normal sea surface temperatures

(Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures related to human caused climate chance contributed to a city-devastating cyclone striking Mozambique. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

The story of the recent climate change related disasters could have been written a month ago, a year ago, two years ago. And ten years from now it will be the same story. Only worse. Though we have not yet entered the truly catastrophic age of climate change driven by fossil fuel burning and greenhouse gas emissions, for some, the situation is already a catastrophe. Whole towns have burned from worsened wildfires. Entire islands are being swallowed by the rising sea. The heat is more dangerous, the droughts more difficult with each passing year. And new, terrible storms range the globe with increasing frequency.

In my last blog, I made an appeal for U.S. and global action in the form of a Green New Deal. Why? Because I believe this is our all hands on deck moment. The time when we, both as people and as societies, need to do everything we can to blunt the coming trouble. And true to that cause — I went dark.


(More on present day climate impacts and action.)

Well, I figured that it was time to stop simply writing about climate change and start doing something about it on a personal level. Sure, I’d already done what I could in some respects. My wife and I worked to be as energy efficient as possible. We adopted a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle (which reduces our carbon emissions by about 10-15 percent). I promoted clean energy through my work and writing. I voted for politicians who would adopt helpful climate policy like the Green New Deal. But for me, those actions were not enough. In order to be most effective, I needed to pursue the goal of a clean energy transition and a net zero carbon lifestyle for self and family and to help others to do the same. In the parlance of my military/emerging threats background, I needed to become a climate change response force multiplier.

That public effort begins today. It will be a no-holds barred description of my clean energy transition attempts. A down in the dirt expose of my successes, my struggles, and my failures. And an attempt to transfer all the knowledge gained in that process to as many of you as possible. I’m calling this effort — Extreme Clean. And I hope you join me in pursuing it.

Though the public effort begins today, the private effort started back in September of 2018. Back then, I decided that the first major goal of my clean energy transition attempt would be to purchase an advanced electrical vehicle and to share access to this clean energy system with others. Gaining access to a long range electric vehicle would not be easy. Costs, compared to the reach of my middle class income, were relatively high — ranging from around 29,000 dollars to the upper 40s. And sharing an electric vehicle would not be easy. Slower refuel times and somewhat shorter range than internal combustion engine vehicles were all also limiting factors.

Reduced emissions with electric vehicles

(Electric vehicles allow you to cut transport based carbon emissions by half or more. Image source: Union of Concerned Scientists.)

At the time, I didn’t have the money or the means or even a plan. My access to clean energy, as had been the case for too, too long, was limited. But there were a growing set of options coming from clean energy business and a new economy that I thought could help me reach my goals.

My first move was to begin ride-sharing during the time I would typically spend blogging. I planned to use the ride share money to save for an electric vehicle. The vehicle I was driving (and continue to drive) is a 2009 Hyundai Elantra. Not a gas guzzler, for sure, but a vehicle with a total carbon footprint in the range of 2-3 times that of a fully electrified vehicle plugged into the cleaner Maryland grid. One that would be even less if I could eventually get a home equipped with solar panels.


(My present goal: ridesharing an electric vehicle as a clean energy multiplier.)

Since September of I have completed 1,139 shared rides using the Uber rideshare application. This enabled me to have lots of chats about climate change and clean energy with riders. And I’ve got to say that many, many people out there are very concerned. These folks come from all walks of life and political persuasions. And though I did get into a few polite discussions with people of the climate change denial persuasion, my overall sense is that the vast majority of riders I picked up basically got it and shared my concern.

To me, this experience was pretty liberating. But even more liberating was the fact that I was able to save a good deal of money using the Uber app to put toward the purchase of a clean energy vehicle. To start taking rides in an electrical vehicle in order to multiply my clean energy impact.

So as of this point in time, I am looking at logging my reservation of a long range electrical vehicle by mid April, to take delivery of that vehicle by sometime in May or June, and to start sharing clean rides with people by that time. But before I do that, I’m going to have to actually choose a brand of electrical vehicle to purchase. And in that process, I’m going to need to look at cost, capability, maintenance, and charging. To look at what works best for me given my personal needs and my clean energy goals. It won’t be easy. I live in a condo. I don’t even have access to a garage. So for me, the bar for clean energy access is pretty high. But that’s what the Extreme Clean program is all about. Attempting to overcome difficult obstacles in order to help save our future. And I hope you all will weigh in as I go through the process of picking an electrical vehicle that’ll work for me given my situation and goals.

So thanks so much for stopping by. Thanks for taking part in Extreme Clean. And until next time — cioa!

(Want to help spread the word about personal clean energy transformation? Then please share this blog far and wide. Wish to engage in a similar Extreme Clean effort through rideshare? Then please help by using this Uber referral code: ROBERTF30288UE.)

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