It’s hard enough, when all you’re asking for is convenience. But when you’ve got six-figure health benefits, retiring at 60 and getting to pick and choose exactly where you work is so much better.
I met Chris Hearnen, owner of Kandi Electric Vehicles in Englewood, Colorado, on Thursday morning. Prior to starting his company, he worked at a real estate brokerage and banking company in New York. However, even during that time, when he attended the same physical activity class, he still drove an old Porsche — only ever in the city — because it was just too convenient.
At a handful of work, he’d leave and go to the subway, where he’d have to walk several blocks to his car. But that didn’t keep him from accessing his car.
“It was an easy location to avoid,” he explained.
And to remember, too. Hearnen’s wife didn’t work, so he was the main one who had access to the vehicle, rather than the company.
“This was the old-school way,” he explained.
And Hearnen’s passion for the automobile dates back to his college days at UCLA. He was born into a family that was passionate about cars. His grandfather and uncle both were into race cars. He started riding in a NASCAR.
After the dust settled, he graduated with a degree in organizational behavior — a combination of management and psychology — and got a job for a real estate company. He soon began to take the subway or take a train to work, which became a form of solo commuting.
“I was pretty lonely,” he recalled, “and driving was just that convenient.”
And what about parking?
“No one knew where I was parking my car,” he said, until his boss saw the parking ticket for $65 and decided he’d better get Hearnen a car.
“He said, ‘You can drive your car.'”
Hearnen took what he’d always done, and did it better. His business idea was inspired by having to go to the supermarket to pick up groceries and a cup of coffee, but never being able to leave the car outside because of strangers yelling at him from balconies.
“That was the epitome of laziness and behavior,” he said.
So Hearnen started an e-shopping app, and set about getting a car to drive himself. An Uber-type of app was pitched, but Hearnen made it easier for people to use. He offered to drop them off and pick them up whenever they needed, and offered free parking to anyone with a good rate of return.
Around this time, he and his wife also made the huge life decision that he’d stay at home — even to the point of quitting his job.
“We know we had an early ’60s luxury lifestyle,” he said.
While Hearnen is hard-working and focused on service, there’s been one important debate that’s been plaguing him.
The issue, he explained, revolves around the neighbors. For a long time, Hearnen was the only car in the neighborhood. Though others moved in, he’d go out with his sedan, and would never be seen again by his neighbors.
“I didn’t even know I was there,” he said.
However, that’s about to change. Already, Hearnen says he can’t contain himself anymore. He’s buying an electric vehicle that he’ll drive anywhere.
“I’m pissed,” he said. “I’ve gone outside my years.”
Hearnen even developed an app for an electric car that enables him to drive from Point A to Point B and let others know about it.
He hopes to have several dozen of these cars in place in neighborhoods across Denver, as well as eventually charging stations. He’s hoping to rent these cars with a “drive plus” option, which provides a self-drive option for short trips.
He’d like to have other companies join in and build out these businesses around the car.
Of course, there’s one thing that may bring Hearnen’s business to a halt: the electric vehicle tax.
It was originally supposed to be eliminated in 2019, but Trump’s budget called for an increase — not that Hearnen is complaining.
“It will make it easier to compete against the coffee houses,” he said.