Over the past year, UO’s student-run Oregon Consulting Group and Arcimoto, a Eugene-based electric vehicle manufacturer, have been working together to launch a new vehicle rental program in Eugene. The team plans to have the pilot project launch in time for the World Athletics Championship being held at Hayward Field in July 2022.
The project aims to provide alternative transportation options for Eugene residents and will initially serve high traffic areas like campus and downtown, as well as some low-income housing areas, Jesse Fittipaldi, Arcimoto’s chief strategy officer, said. The team currently plans on using Arcimoto’s FUV model, a small utility vehicle designed for everyday driving.
“Through all this research, we want to know whether people will use a low cost, electric vehicle designed to drive around town, go to the grocery store, go to school or go to a soccer game,” Fittipaldi said.
Originally, this project was solely meant to provide transportation around Eugene during the World Athletics Championship, but the team quickly saw the benefits of expanding it beyond just the one event.
Arcimoto’s goal is to create change in the world of transportation. They hope to make sustainable driving accessible by designing fully electric, size efficient vehicles at a more affordable price than a traditional car. By implementing a rideshare program in Eugene, the team hopes to make the city more driveable while reducing carbon emissions even after the World Athletics Championship.
“We want to see if we can prove that the consumer is moving more and more away from actually owning vehicles, and would use rideshare if the vehicle architecture was developed well and was low cost,” he said.
Run through the Lundquist College of Business, the Oregon Consulting Group (OCG) is made up of around 35, mainly undergraduate students who work on consulting projects with companies and nonprofits throughout the Pacific Northwest. Students can gain professional experience by performing research and analysis to create business strategies for real companies. Since its inception in 2014, the group has worked on 71 different projects.
During this past fall term, they interviewed LTD and city officials to learn about their transportation priorities and establish a plan for implementing the rental model in Eugene. They then presented a formal pitch hoping to get them on board with the project, and they received positive reception from attendees, Rennaker said.
OCG is hired by Arcimoto each term to take on a new aspect of the project. They meet throughout the term to update Arcimoto on their work, and give them a recommendation at the end of the ten weeks. OCG’s responsibilities include extensive survey distribution, cold calls and in-depth stakeholder or expert interviews, UO junior and project manager Kali Rennaker said.
“From our primary and secondary research, we can provide Arcimoto with thorough recommendations and next steps for the rental model,” she said.
Over the past year, OCG has been involved in three different development projects; each one was conducted over the course of a term. The first step involved establishing the rental model and considering how Arcimoto can provide transportation beyond the World Athletic Championships. This past fall term, they conducted extensive research on LTD’s priorities and analyzed data on potential consumers’ perceptions of the vehicles. Most recently, they’ve been looking into the financial side of the project.
“We created a financial model that estimated overall profitability in the short and long-term of the program, and made recommendations on improving revenue and cutting costs,” Rennaker said.
This term, the team is working on Arcimoto’s app development and user experience.
OCG has played an important role in the development of the project, Fittipaldi said.
“They started by not having any preconceived notions of what would work, but went after any concepts that people would come up with that might work, and then determined with research, which of those ideas was the best idea,” he said.
Rennaker said that Arcimoto has faith in the abilities of the student consultants, and allows them to take on responsibilities with creative freedom.
“The level of autonomy we’ve been granted over the projects and their scopes has made the rental program more of a unified vision between Arcimoto and OCG, as opposed to a one-and-done client experience,” she said. “Working with Arcimoto has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career.”
Editor's note: This story was updated on May 25 to correct the spelling of Kali Rennaker's name.