Ferry, the Austin-based electric vehicle subscription service that lets drivers roll out in Teslas, Polestars, or even Vespa scooters for a monthly fee, has raised new money to bring the service to market.
Funded by no less an auto expert than Antoni Piëch (the heir to the Porsche fortune) through his AMYP Ventures firm, Ferry is primed to charge up the market for electric vehicle driving.
Vehicles account for around one quarter to one third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and electrifying the passenger car market has been the dream of environmentalists and politicians alike for several years.
One major obstacle to the adoption of electric vehicles are decades old laws that keep manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers. Seventeen states have laws that forbid automakers from opening stores and selling their vehicles directly to customers, while another eleven have an exception for electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla.
Leasing services like Steer, Flux EV, and Ferry are hoping to change that with a different model for selling and a way to get more butts in EV seats.
"The future of transportation is electromobility, and Ferry is all about the democratization of this future," said Kristian Russell, the founder and chief executive of Ferry, in a statement. "We are grateful to have the support from an accomplished group of investors whose strategic guidance will supercharge our mission to help get 50% of US drivers behind the wheel of an electric vehicle in the next 10 years."
Ferry's service gives users the option to go with a six, twelve, or twenty four month lease on a new electric vehicle with no down payment and door-to-door delivery, the company said.
The entire process is conducted over an app and users pay a fixed monthly price for their vehicle. There are range restrictions for drivers, with the first 1,000 miles of driving and maintenance and taxes included in the price. Upgrades are available for folks that drive longer distances.
The leasing model helps Ferry and Steer get around the direct auto sales requirements that are widely acknowledged to be holding back the EV market.
The move to electrification is going to be a challenge for dealerships, because they make money on servicing cars -- and electric vehicles are better cars that don't break down nearly as often as an internal combustion vehicle.
"[Dealers’] economic model is to make all their money on service,” Daniel Crane, a law professor at the University of Michigan who studies dealer-protection laws, told The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer earlier this year. “They have a 30 percent margin on service, but only a 5 percent margin on sales. It’s just a very, very different model."
Crane noted that direct sales laws were the major hurdle that EVs need to overcome.
“If you want to see more rapid market penetration of electric vehicles, then prohibitions on direct sales are a major barrier,” Crane told The Atlantic. “Whether you’re free market or pro-consumer or pro-environment or pro-competition, there’s something here for everyone."
Toni Piëch, the founder of his eponymous electric vehicle company, Piëch Automotive, and chairman of AMYP Ventures has already backed car subscription services in Europe and he sees Ferry as an extension of those opportunities.
"Both new and legacy manufacturers will benefit from their tech-forward, customer-centric approach -- and with a laser focus on electromobility, Ferry is designing a new future of drive for the next generation of American consumers," Piëch said in a statement.