Earth Rides Brings EV Ride-Hailing to Nashville

CEO Raven Hernandez says she wants to get people talking about EVs—by hailing them in Austin and Nashville

Earth Rides maintains a fleet of Teslas, like this Model X.

Earth Rides

Is there a better, greener way to do ride-hailing? Raven Hernandez thinks she’s found it. Her Earth Rides enterprise was launched in Nashville last fall, with its own fully-owned fleet of electric cars (mostly Teslas) and drivers who are employees, not contractors. The woman-owned ride-hailing company is poised to expand into Austin, Texas, and is eyeing other cities like Tampa, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona.

The chance to ride in an electric vehicle is popular, Hernandez says. She has carried 45,000 passengers in a motor pool that’s got six to 10 cars on the street, with more being added. “We only use electric cars,” she says, “originally all Teslas—many with 60,000 to 80,000 miles on them. They’ve been very reliable. Our 2013 Model S has 123,000 miles on it now, and regenerative braking means not a lot of brake wear—it just had its first brake job.” 

All of Earth Rides’ employees are trained in electric car lore (so they can answer riders’ frequent questions) and EV maintenance. Not that there’s a lot of it. “They’re always on the road, and because they’re so quick off the line the Teslas just go through tires,” Hernandez says.

Part of her master plan is to hook up with original equipment manufacturing (OEM) automakers (and tire suppliers, too) to get discounts in exchange for showcasing EVs on the road. “We’re talking to multiple OEMs,” she says. A recent popular addition to the fleet is the Mustang Mach-E. 

Yes, Earth Rides is a business, but Hernandez (whose family is from Panama) has a sustainability mission also. She’s a Nashville native and a lawyer. While attending law school at Pepperdine, she had to study through a debilitating illness brought on by vaccines that she’s held at bay with a holistic regimen. “I changed my lifestyle, my diet, and started doing everything right,” she says. “But the air in Malibu was still thick with smog, and I was breathing it in,” she said. “It was an uphill battle. So I was motivated by a selfish desire to improve my own health. I wanted to influence others to choose better options.” 

Raven Hernandez
Raven Hernandez.

Earth Rider

The EV space needed her help. “Electric vehicles are still not common on the road,” Hernandez explains. “The average person isn’t checking out the Polestar II or the Volkswagen ID.4. So my idea was to get them into EVs through things they were already doing in their daily lives.” That included hailing rides, which never entirely went away, even during the worst days of the pandemic. Earth Rides did delay its opening, though, from Earth Day to October 2020.

Operations in Austin—a frequent test bed for EV companies—are scheduled to go live by July 23. Next week, Austin influencers will go for a ride in the cars. “The South needs more clean technology!” says Hernandez. Austin has a homegrown nonprofit service called Ride Austin, but it’s been suspended since March because of COVID. 

BlueLA says it’s the largest EV car-share service. WaiveCar offers 24/7 EV sharingin Santa Monica, California. Rental car services such as Enterprise and Hertz offer EVs, as does Zipcar

It’s unlikely that Uber and Lyft are running scared about a two-city competitor, and of course, it’s possible that you’ll get picked up in an EV by one of the companies’ contract drivers. All cars will be EVs soon, but right now Hernandez says she’s offering the chance to cruise in an electric car for a price that’s competitive with what the big guys charge.