News: BMW Electrification Push Bearing Fruit

News: BMW Electrification Push Bearing Fruit

BMW Leads in EVs/PHEVs in Europe

BMW is a relatively small company in the auto world, but it’s creating a big footprint in electrified vehicles. The BMW i3 is the best-selling electric car in the premium compact segment in the U.S., and the best-selling EV in Germany.

BMW iPerformance

BMW celebrates an electrified holiday

BMW delivered 100,000 pure electrics and plug-in hybrids during 2017, reaching its goal for the year. According to the independent POLK/IHS Report (published on Dec. 7, 2017), the BMW Group is leading its competitors in registrations of new fully-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe, with a market share of 21 percent. That’s three times BMW’s market share for its traditional models. The company celebrated by turning its Munich headquarters into a replica of a battery.

In the U.S. the current electrified BMW Group lineup includes the i3, available in full-electric and range-extended versions, and plug-in hybrid versions of the i8, 3-Series, 5-Series, 7-Series, X5 SUV and Mini Countryman. Currently, six percent of BMW’s sales are electrified vehicles, double or triple the percentage at its competitors.

A Sportier i3

BMW has just introduced a new variation of the i3–the i3s. It’s a performance upgrade for what was a fairly pedestrian (though pricey and packed with some exotic features) EV. The basic i3 also received a refresh and upgrade with a 94 Ah/33 kWh lithium-ion battery good for what BMW calls an “everyday range” of 124 miles.   

BMW iPerformance

The i3 is BMW’s lead electric vehicle

The new i3s gets some external paint treatment and badging to distinguish it from its non-s brethren, but the real story for the upgrade lies in a motor upgrade and some suspension tuning.

On its way to 25 electrified models across its different platforms by 2025, BMW plans to add the i8 Roadster in 2018, an all-electric Mini in 2019, an electric X3 in 2020, followed by the new electric flagship iNext in 2021, which will combine autonomous capability with electric drive.

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News: Gig Car Share

News: Gig Car Share

A New Way To Get a Car for an Errand—an Hour—or a Day

It’s nice to have your own car, but what if you don’t need one most of the time? What if you could use one only when you had an errand to run, a quick trip to make, or someone to meet? You could save the purchase price, the payments, the insurance, the maintenance and other headaches.

Well, is you live in sections of Oakland and Berkeley, California, you can do it today. I did. I used Gig Car Share, a service from AAA that lets you find a car nearby, reserve it, drive it, and leave it when you’re done any place in the Oakland/Berkeley “home area.”

Gig Car Share

The first thing you see is a map of where the cars are

The first step is to download the app. For my iPhone, I grabbed it from the App Store. Then, I used the software in the app to sign up for a free account. This was interesting, because besides entering information, such as name, address, email address and credit card information in the easy-to-use forms, the app directed me to photograph my driver’s license and take a selfie to compare my face to it. I got it right the first time around, and then popped open the app.

The app opens to a map, centered on where you are. If you’re not in the car zone, just slide yourself over there. As usual, the locations are grouped, so, if you see a circled with “20” in it, as soon as you zoom in further it’ll break into more and more detail, until you are looking at single vehicles. These are available rides, which you can reserve right from your phone. Of course, it makes sense to do it when you’re close by (you can reserve up to 30 minutes in advance).

I found one just around the corner and walked there. I wanted to check it out before pushing the Reserve button.

Gig Car Share

This is the car I found

Every Gig Car Share is a black Toyota Prius C hybrid (the small Prius hatchback) with a pair of bike racks mounted on top. You can tell it by the big “G” logo on the rear pillar. Though it’s not a large car, you can squeeze three people in the back seat, making it good for taking your friends along.

I found the car in good shape, if not sparkly clean. I saw a few bird droppings and some dust, but it looked serviceable. In the photo above, it looks great.

When you first reserve the car, the app asks you to check out the body for flaws, so you can report them and not be blamed for them. I noticed several scrapes and dings that had been marked with stickers, which showed that Gig Car Share already knew about them. I saw a tiny scrape on the right side but decided to let it go.

My car had a nearly full tank of gas, which was good to know. When you reserve a car, the app shows you the amount of fuel available. If, while using the vehicle, you need more, there’s a gas card inside the glovebox. Just call Gig Car Share for a pin to operate it.

Gig Car Share

The windshield unlock tag

You use the app—or a card the company sends you—to gain access to the car. There’s a little device in the lower left corner of the windshield that you place your phone or card near to connect to the car. Then, you can touch “Unlock” on your phone and you’ll gain access. I did, and sat down in the black interior.

I had read online about customers having issues with cars that were smoky, but this one just smelled lightly of air freshener, and was fairly clean. I found a couple small pieces of plastic wrapper and the driver’s mat had some dirt, but overall it was just fine. I pressed Start, carefully backed out of the tight spot, and was off.

Gig Car Share

The floor mat–not clean, but not bad

Once you’re underway, there’s really nothing different about the driving experience. The Prius C is a competent car for errands, commuting, and general use, and this one was no different. The audio system had FM available, and I tuned to my favorite station.

After a mile or so, I decided that there was nothing to be gained from going further from my starting point, so I turned and then parked down the street.

Gig Car Share

The app allows you to park and return to your car

When you stop, you can end the service and relinquish the ride for someone else’s use by selecting “End Booking.” Or, you can keep the car, in case, for example, you want to stop and pick up something or someone. I tried this, using the “Park and Come Back” setting on the phone.

While I was parked, I was charged $0.30 a minute – different from the normal $2.50 per mile rate for driving.

While I was parked, I took time to examine the bike racks. To use them, you take the key out of the packet in the glove compartment and place your bike in per the instructions on the key chain.

Gig Car Share

Every car comes with a bike rack, giving you different options

There are short videos on the Gig Car Share website that quickly explain how to perform the bike rack process—and the other features. I took time to watch the video on my phone before I tried the service. This makes it easy to figure things out, although I did lightly pinch my finger fooling with the bike rack.

The app is easy to use, with logical selections to get information you need before and after a ride.

When I was ready to resume, I unlocked the car again—it gave me a minute to open the door—and headed back to the area where I had started my ride. Because I was testing the service from a place near my own car—not my house—I tried to make it close to the original pickup point, but if I had needed a one-way trip, my drop-off could have been miles away, as long as I stayed inside the service area.

Gig Car Share

Back to a new home

I finally found a spot in front of a house a couple of blocks from my car. I carefully checked for my personal belongings (the app warns you to), and ended the booking with one touch.

Gig Car Share uses software from Ridecell, an established San Francisco startup that bills itself as “The World’s Most Intelligent Mobility Platform.” Their platform also supplies the software for BMW’s ReachNow car sharing service, which is currently active in Portland, Oregon and other places. Ridecell also offers ridesharing software, and with the acquisition of Auro, they are moving into autonomous vehicles, as well. Their end-to-end platform is designed for companies to set up their own car, ride or autonomous fleets.

Gig Car Share

The receipt comes after you’re ended the loan; if you’d used the car for a “gig,” you could even cover the cost of the loan

Gig Car Share sent me my receipt in an email. I felt that $6.43 was a reasonable price for an experiment. I even received a 10 percent discount as a AAA member. If you used the car longer and went further, of course it would cost more.

After a refreshing walk to my own car, I headed home and realized that someday, with services like Gig Car Share, Uber, Lyft and their autonomous vehicle iterations, I may not need to own a car anymore. Gig Car Share isn’t available where I live, or in most places–yet, but something like it likely will be available before long. I’d like to see the fleets use fully electric cars, and perhaps offer more choices of vehicle. But for now, the efficient little Prius is just fine.

Gig Car Share

The easy-to-use home page for the app

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Flash Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Flash Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Still the Most Affordable Fun

It seems like a simple equation. Take a solid, popular, respected hatchback. Add in a state-of-the-art electric powertrain. Improve often. The best example I can think of that fits this equation is the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf keeps the fun and adds some range

We’ve been in this model before and have very little negative to say about it. We’ve loved the Golf through it’s multiple generations and the electric version is icing on the cake. It loses none of the great handling of the gas or diesel models (maybe even gains a little from the battery weight).

In our view the e-Golf is one of the best EVs out there. Competition from new models has made me modify my previous “best” to “one of the best.” But that’s because of the advances of new models from Chevy and Tesla, not through any deterioration from the VW.

Most Improved?

In fact, I could make an argument for a new title for the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf—most improved EV. Only three years after its introduction, VW has upgraded the battery pack in this compact sedan and booted its range beyond the magic 100 miles. I’ll be the first to admit these arbitrary milestones don’t really mean anything in the real world, but I’ll almost be first in line to admit the 2017 e-Golf just feels better than its previous version.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

A modest nod to VW’s new direction

Those extra miles change the equation on so many trips, it changes the viability of the car and its appeal. Like the similar upgrade by Nissan with its 2018 Leaf, this is a gamechanger. Not as big of a gamechanger as the Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3 with their 230-mile-plus ranges, but still significant.

Cars are still about how we use them and more range means more useability. This takes the e-Golf, already a great EV choice, into new territory.

The Good Stuff

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Like any good driver’s car, the cockpit is all about you behind the wheel

The Golf is a wonderful platform to start with. Crisp handling and a great road feel is the starting point. Feedback from the steering wheel is immediate and the car tracks true. For a small car, it’s quiet (and even quieter due to the electric drivetrain). This is a car that seems to know where it’s going and is eager to get there.

The eight-inch touchscreen is a great size and contains a wealth of information about the car and the technology included. On some screens, it becomes a great training ground to teach you how to become a better EV driver.

The Range

I made a point about how the longer range (EPA rated at 125 miles, a number I saw on several recharges). Here are the caveats, which will be familiar to most EV drivers. Drive fast, drive in extreme cold or extreme heat, push acceleration, take on big hills—all result in diminished range. Of course, with the e-Golf’s strong regen capabilities, coasting, driving down hill and gentle braking puts energy back into the battery. When the disclaimer says “your mileage may vary,” that’s pretty much the subtitle of every electric car on the road. Drivers deal with it, but it does come back to a fundamental lifestyle change. Every time you get in an EV, you have to calculate how much range you have left on your battery, where you’re going and auxiliary factors like the weather and traffic patterns.

The good news is the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf pushes these considerations to a lower level. More of your life will more easily fit the EV lifestyle. We won’t even delve into the 119 MPGe (mles per gallon equivalent) rating of the e-Golf since that number means a whole lot less than the range. (If you’re keeping score, the e-Golf comes in at 126 MPGe city/111 highway/119 combined.

The e-Golf Choices

Like most cars on the market, the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf comes in several flavors. The entry-level model is the SE, which starts at $30,495. Next step up is the Limited Edition at $33,795. The top-of-the-line is the SEL Premium, which we tested, at $36,995.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Open up. Not all EVs give you this kind of storage

Even at the top level, options were available, including a $1,395 technology package that included forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking w/pedestrian monitoring, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor w/rear traffic alert, high beam control (light assist), parking steering assistant and the VW digital cockpit. All good stuff that, along with the destination charge of $850, brought the bottom line on our tester to $39,240.

Clean Fleet Report recommends leasing all plug-in vehicles because of the rapid advance of these vehicles (as demonstrated by the quick refresh of the e-Golf), so taking advantage of lease deals (latest one we saw was $159/month for 36 months with $2.349 down). A lease gives you the opportunity to do a reality check after two or three years. Imagine buying an e-Golf with an extended payment plan a year or two years ago and then seeing this new higher-range model coming out now.

The Basic Package

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

VW’s motor cranks out the torque for the 3,430-pound e-Golf

The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf comes with a good package of standard equipment. It’s 100 kW electric motor delivers 134 horsepower and an all-important 214 pounds-feet of torque to get you off the line. It’s capable of taking you from 0-60 in less than nine seconds.

VW’s battery packaging keeps the 35.8-kWh pack out of site and not taking up any of the hatchback’s great storage space (52.7 cubic feet with the back seats folded down). The boost in the battery size was a big part of the range boost for this year’s e-Golf.

The 7.2 kWh on-board charger allows fast charging (an option on the base model, but standard on the upper trim levels). Even with a level 2 charger, you could bring the e-Golf up to full charge in about four hours.  

The Bottom Line

The EV choices out there are increasing and starting to feel more like traditional cars. If you want maximum range and good utility in a mildly styled package, there’s the Chevy Bolt. If you want the range and some cachet, there’s the Tesla Model 3. Bargain basement fun is the Fiat 500e. Luxury cred comes with the BMW i3, Mercedes-Benz B-Class or either of the two big Teslas. Modest sedan competence is the Ford Focus Electric, Honda Clarity Electric, Hyundai Eoniq EV or Nissan Leaf. Then there’s the quirkiness of the Kia Soul EV or Smart ED.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

We still think the e-Golf has the edge

In this crowd I see the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf as one that cuts its own path—a fun-to-drive, affordable, reasonable-range compact EV. I could think of no more higher recommendation. While we’d love to say wait for the upcoming Volkswagen I.D., that’s far enough down the road that a three-year lease of an e-Golf will be long over before you’re tempted to move on to the new generation.

Flash Drive: Clean Fleet Report “Flash Drives” are concise reviews of vehicles that include the major points and are easy and quick to read. A “Flash Drive” is often followed later by a comprehensive test drive review.

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (John’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (Steve’s view)

First Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

Road Test: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

Million-seller Going Strong

Twenty-five years ago, I piloted my first Mazda Miata sports car–and fell for it immediately. I grew up riding in my father’s Austin-Healey roadster, so cruising in a little open-top two-seater brought back happy memories.

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

This is why the MX-5 exists–the open road

The Miata, now known as the MX-5, was designed to include the driver as a participant, not to isolate him or her from the experience. Twenty-eight years down the road, Mazda still sells a little sports car that’s much like the original, although the inaugural model’s simplicity and technology have moved forward with each generation.

I first tested one of the latest generation cars nearly two years ago. With its sharply defined “Kodo” styling, it looked meaner than the sweet little original, but in truth, it’s not much different in size or proportions.

The Latest Model

I’ve just had a turn with the new-for 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF model, which features a power folding hardtop, the only one in a car in this price range. Press a button and, in 13 seconds, a rear panel lifts, the top rises and drops in, and the panel covers it. Despite this magic, there’s still a little trunk space!

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

The RF magic–caught in the act

If you want nothing but sky above the tops of the door panels, opt for the traditional cloth top, because the RF (Retractable Fastback) retains its side pillars. And even though the original cloth top folds down easily—from the driver’s seat—the totally automatic experience of the RF is easy to get used to.

The interior of the latest MX-5 evokes the general proportions of the original Miata, but today’s car designs are much more complex. My car’s black interior was businesslike, not cute, with the tachometer in the center of the three-gauge instrument panel and everything arrayed where a driver would want to find it. Naturally, there’s a center screen, permanently popped up on the dash, so you can have the electronic display for navigation, entertainment and vehicle configuration that we expect these days.

The Power Below

Today’s MX-5 uses a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that puts out 155 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque, which is fine for a 2,300-pound little car. The original, if I’m not mistaken, had 115 horsepower, but likely weighed short of a ton. The experience remains immediate and accessible, though, and open air above you makes everything feel more exciting.

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

Where the MX-5 fun begins

Part of the charm of an MX-5/Miata is in shifting your own gears with the available manual six-speed. However, my test car came with the automatic. I understand that many buyers today don’t even know how to drive a manual, and I can’t complain about this automatic, but if I were signing the paperwork, I’d order the famously exquisite do-it-yourself lever.

Numbers are good, partly because of Mazda’s Skyactiv program. In brief, this is the company’s way of honing every aspect of their cars to perfection. This means removing extra weight—a gram at a time—and making changes to the mechanical pieces that promote efficiency. This new car gets 26 city/35 highway/29 combined per the EPA. I averaged 31.3 mpg myself. That’d definitely better than the old cars. Green scores are 6 for Smog and 7 for Greenhouse Gas, likely because of the small scale of the car—and those Skyactiv efficiencies.

The Options

Pick from three models—Sport, Club, and Grand Touring. The Sport is closest to the original, with cloth seats, 16-inch alloy wheels and fewer gizmos. The Grand Touring

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

Spoiler alert–the bar is built into the RF, but you can get a full soft top

adds leather seats and much more. There is a special Launch Edition of the RF, limited to 1,000, that includes the Machine Gray Metallic paint that’s was optional on my test car ($300), Auburn Nappa leather seats and a hand-painted black top.

My car came to $34,960, with the optional paint. The Sport with cloth top and manual transmission starts at $25,750. Both prices include shipping. Considering that the 1992 model I tested was priced at about $15,000, the car remains remarkably affordable.

Although climbing in and out of a low little sports car is more of a challenge now than it was 25 years ago, the little thing makes an efficient commuter. With the hard top in place, wind and road noise are reduced, so it’s quieter on the freeway. Of course, you’ll be looking out at the alloy wheels of the SUVs in the next lane, but with modern tech like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning, not to mention various airbags, you’re likely to get to your destination in one piece.

Of course, taking your car out on a sunny weekend remains where the 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF continues to shine brightly. At this price, you could tuck a basic Sport model in your garage for entertainment purposes only (and commute in an electric car during the week).

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

10 Best Car Sharing Programs in USA

10 Best Car Sharing Programs in USA

The Evolution of Car Sharing

Car sharing has changed dramatically since Clean Fleet Report first reported on it a decade ago. While it was picking up steam at that point, in the years since it has morphed and been influenced by changing technology, both in vehicles and in the software that enables the service. Some big players have jumped in and then retreated. Some small players were gobbled up by bigger companies. Where car sharing once resembled a rent-by-the-hour system that was a more decentralized version of the traditional car rental, it has now become a ubiquitous system that includes shared use and even cars that drive themselves. The changes keep coming as illustrated in this recent update. We recently took a look at a brand-new local iteration run by the local auto club, but using software developed and being used by many others. 

Is Ridesharing Eco-Friendly

Car sharing and ride sharing are blurring together

Car sharing allows households to own only one car, instead of two or three, or for some to forgo car ownership completely, using the variations of car sharing and services to pick a vehicle or ride for a given task and location. For some Americans it gives a chance to drive and experience a different car, maybe an electric car they might be thinking of purchasing.

Like they say about real estate, with car sharing it is location, location, location. The best program for you is a function of where you live and your mobility requirements. But take a look at the variety of program available. One of the gurus of car sharing, Dr. Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley, says we are in the age of shared mobility where new modes of alternative transportation services are making great changes. “Pushed primarily by demographic shifts, societal attitudes toward ownership, and advances in mobile technology, these modes are growing rapidly and becoming more numerous,” she commented recently. She outlines the variety of choices available in a white paper. For her car sharing had subcategories of:

car sharing,uber, lyft,mobility

Car sharing is expanding our mobility

  • Roundtrip
  • One-Way
  • Personal Vehicle Sharing (which can include fractional ownership models)

Then there’s scooter sharing and bike sharing (also with subcategories of public, closed campus and peer-to-peer [P2P]). Autonomous technology can overlay much of this as well.

Competing with car sharing are alternative transit services (shuttles or microtransit), ride sharing (carpooling or vanpooling), on-demand ride services (ridesourcing, ridesplitting or e-hail services) and courier network services (P2P delivery services and paired on-demand passenger ride and courier services).

The choices can be almost overwhelming, so services like Yelp can help you sort out the consumer-facing side of the choices. Where it used to be Hertz or Avis–or the taxi–the choices now are much more complex.

According to Navigant Research, it’s not going to change soon. Their take on car sharing and related services was just published.  They found: “Mobility as a service (MaaS) solutions such as carsharing, ride-hailing, and micro transit provide much more flexibility while also enabling the replacement of 5-20 individually owned vehicles depending on the use cases. According to Navigant Research, global revenue generated by ride-hailing services is expected to grow to almost $1.2 trillion in 2026.”

Although the carshare service model has been well established over the past 15 years, there have been some significant innovations in the market recently. The success of one-way car sharing services is prompting more companies to consider offering this service model. Such services can increase utilization since members can use one-way car sharing for shorter, spur of the moment trips. Automakers have entered this market with good results, building substantial membership levels in only a few years. Meanwhile, the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in car sharing services is expected to increase as automakers promote this technology. 

Car companies are aware of these shifts, as you can see below, and are doing their best to try to keep up. This is a subject we’ll keep checking in on as it evolves. 

Lyft

If there was any question about the changing landscape, General Motors’ $500 million investment in the ride sharing company Lyft. The stated goal is to experiment in autonomous on-demand vehicles, hedging the reduction in vehicle sales caused by ride sharing by making GM the preferred vehicle provider for Lyft drivers and integrating connectivity tools like OnStar. Lyft claims it is the fastest-growing ride share service and is available in 190 cities worldwide. Lyft also has rolled out multiple-rider sharing that creates an on-demand carpool.

Uber

Uber,car sharing, ride sharing

Coming to get you

Uber is the Hertz to Lyft’s Avis. It’s available in more than 300 cities around the world and offers a variety of vehicles to fit the needs of your trip, whether its an eco-friendly model or the full black limo experience. Uber’s value proposition is that it is cheaper than using a taxi and much cheaper than using a personal car.

Zipcar

Zipcar bills itself as the world’s largest car sharing and car bluc service. It views itself as the logical alternative to car ownership (own the trip, not the car) and traditional car rentals. The company was purchased by Avis in 2013 and operates as a subsidiary of the traditional car rental company. Zipcar has more than one million members worldwide who can reserve and use 10,000 cars in 500 cities in nine countries. In the U.S. Zipcars can be found in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Sacramento, San Diego,

Zipcar

Zipcar users have a card that unlocks their local cars

San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. as well as universities throughout the country. Zipcar offers more than 50 makes and models of vehicles, including Audis, BMWs, Mini Coopers, pickup trucks, Prius hybrids and more. Each vehicle has a home location: a reserved parking space located on a street, driveway, or neighborhood parking lot in the member’s area, to which it must be returned at the end of the reservation. 

Enterprise Car Share

Although Enterprise is known as a car rental giant, they have expanded into cars sharing 10 years ago, featuring a program rich in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars. Just as UPS has gone beyond delivery to offer large customers complex logistic services, Zipcar offers fleets a growing range of services. For example, the City of Houston better manages vehicle use by adding 50 existing city-owned fleet vehicles, including 25 Nissan LEAFs, with Zipcar’s FastFleet® proprietary fleet sharing technology. Enterprise acquired Philly-Car Share and its 13,000 users, then Mint Cars On-Demand, a car-sharing company serving more than 8,000 members in New York City and Boston. It later added Chicago’s 15,000 IGO car sharing service members and now operates on 130 college campuses, 40 government programs and has 300 business accounts in 35 states, Canada and the U.K.

Hertz on Demand–A Cautionary Tale

Hertz tried to leverage its huge presence to expand into car sharing. Hertz has 8,500 locations in 150 countries. A growing number of hybrid and electric cars are offered in the Hertz Green Travel Collection. Its car share program, Hertz on Demand, launched in December 2008 and grew to more than 1,000 vehicles, 85,000 members and more than 500 locations worldwide, including corporate fleets, airports, hotels, utilities, government, and universities. However, the company pulled the plug on U.S. operations citing a “low return on investment” after a half-dozen years of operation. 

2013 smart,low price, electric car

Car2Go features short-term Smart ED drives

Car2Go

Car2go, owned by auto giant Daimler, is the world leader in one-way car sharing. Car2go is in 15 North American cities. Car2go is a point-to-point car sharing service. You pay 41 cents a minute. And all without running fixed costs or deposits, parking charges, fuel costs, or recurring annual fees. No surprise fees are charged for being early or late, like some other car sharing services. You can take any of the car2go vehicles you find distributed around you, or you can reserve an available vehicle 30 minutes before you want to drive. That way, you can get to your destination faster. Once you reach your destination, you can either end your trip in accordance with your city’s Parking Rules, or you can keep it if you want to drive further.

Maven

GM's Maven Gig

A day in the life at Maven Gig

General Motors has got into car-sharing in a big way with Maven, which is now operating in 17 cities. Beyond basic car sharing, Maven has moved into more of a hybrid operation with Maven Gig, where cars, led by the new Chevrolet Bolt EV, are available for all-inclusive weekly rentals for folks working for other car sharing or delivery services. We just interviewed Maven’s chief growth officer and found she’s got bold plans for expansion in this new gig economy. 

ReachNow

ReachNow

ReachNow cars now show up on Seattle transit screens

German executives see an increased global interest in using cars as a service, with consumers and fleet managers paying by the minute, hour, and day. BMW ran a successful pilot program of EV car sharing in SF, based on its European model, but went on hiatus because of a lack of progress in securing parking permit regulatory change. ReachNow is starting to ramp up in Portland, Seattle, Brooklyn and other cities. It is big in major German cities where the program also includes the bike sharing that inspired one-way car sharing. They’ve also explored using an app that gives the user alternative transportation options, calculating time and cost for each variable. In addition, it offers options of driving yourself or being picked up and driven to your destination–a blending of car sharing and ride sharing. ReachNow uses the Ridecell technology platform for its service.  ReachNow has a fleet of 700 vehicles in Seattle, 360 in Portland and 260 in Brooklyn. Models include the BMW 328xi and 330xi sedans, the electric i3, the BMW X1 SUV, the Mini Cooper (in both 2-door and 4-door configurations) and the Mini Clubman. 

Ford SmartMobility/Chariot

Ford,emobility,Chariot,

Your Chariot awaits–check your phone

Like GM, Daimler and BMW (and other car companies), Ford is taking a big picture view of the car sharing business and has dipped into it by buying the microtransit company Chariot, which is is rapidly expanding around the world. Chariot seeks to supplement mass transit services by providing first/last mile transportation along regular routes based on consumer demand. Ford’s paired this and augmented it with a bike-sharing service. We covered the start-up here.

RelayRides/Now Turo

RelayRides’ peer-to-peer car sharing is part of an emerging trend of the sharing economy. RelayRides enables personal car sharing with web listings, $1 million liability insurance, and GM OnStar support. Investors in RelayRides include Google Ventures and GM Ventures. RelayRides is a leading example of peer-to-peer that is also embraced by other innovators including Wheelz, Getaround, Whipcar, IGO, non-profits, and even pilots among some auto service giants.

vRide

Ridesharing to work carries more people each day than transit. Sharing cars and rides is challenging among strangers. Trust is natural for people who work together. vRide makes it easy for individuals, employers, and transportation managers to facilitate carpooling, vanpooling, and park and ride. Similar organizations that help with facilitating, lunch-and-learns, vehicles, insurance, and ride matching include 511.org and Rideshare by Enterprise.

 

Getaround

Getaround is free to join. Choose from 1000s of cool cars shared by great people in your neighborhood is the pitch of this peer-to-peer car sharing operation. Convenient hourly and daily rentals. No monthly or annual fees. All Getaround rentals include insurance coverage and 24/7 roadside assistance.

& More

A number of billion dollar giants, venture backed players, and innovators see a major opportunity in the transition for vehicle sales to transportation services. With Daimler, GM and BMW now in the business, Toyota and others are evaluating whether to have their own car sharing program or strengthen partnerships. Audi just invested in Silvercar, what it calls a “next generation” car rental company. Because cars haring is capital intensive, the business is a natural for banking and financial service giants. Sharing, peer-to-peer, and fractional ownership have risk and liability management challenges. Who better to solve these than insurance giant entering the business? With information technology and social networking being integral to innovative mobility sharing, look for new strategic alliances and partnerships.

Bookmark this site and check back as we continue to update this list.

John Addison: Meeting of the Car Sharing Minds

At a meeting several years ago, I (John Addison, founder of Clean Fleet Report) lunched with Zipcar President Mark Norman gave me a good idea of why members prefer the range of carsharing services to owning a car. A member can try an electric car one day, use a larger van to transport 6 people the next, then take an AWD to the mountains on the next. Zipcar’s potential is enormous. By succeeding at a university such as USC in Los Angeles, Zipcar has a base to expand in Southern California’s over 10 million car drivers and massive fleets. I expect Zipcar to soon have over one million members.

Google,self-driving car,autonomous car

Google autonomous car may be the next thing in car sharing

Just as UPS has gone beyond delivery to offer large customers complex logistic services, Zipcar offers fleets a growing range of services. For example, the City of Houston better manages vehicle use by adding 50 existing city-owned fleet vehicles, including 25 Nissan LEAFs, with Zipcar’s FastFleet® proprietary fleet sharing technology. By using Zipcar’s FastFleet technology, the City of Houston configures its fleet footprint in real time for optimal utilization; manages preventive maintenance, fueling, billing, and fleet distribution; and uses Zipcar’s analytics with data automatically captured during every trip. Zipcar’s FastFleet technology is used in Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago where DC officials estimate that they save approximately $1 million per year using FastFleet technology.

I talked with Rick Hutchinson, CEO City CarShare, at Meeting of the Minds. As a non-profit, City CarShare actively works to make urban mobility more effective as people combine walking, bicycling, transit, and carsharing. For 11 years, they have modeled best practices, which others learn from including Zipcar, Enterprise, and independents. City CarShare promotes equity with CommunityShare and AccessMobile. They promote sustainability by taking cars off the road and adding electric vehicles.

Susan Shaheen, Co-Director of Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC), has probably done more research about shared-use mobility than anyone. TSRC studies have determined that each carshare membership has resulted in at least 9 vehicles being sold, removed, or purchase-postponed. The biggest shift is one car households becoming car-free due to cars haring; 2 cars to one is another big segment. Her insights greatly helped with this article.

One million U.S. carsharing members will soon become 2 million as people save thousands per year owning one less car. University students, city dwellers, and fleets have new flexibility in getting the right vehicle when needed including roomy sedans, pickup trucks, and even electric cars. Just as we are transitioning from owning expensive computers and software to mobile use of cloud services, transportation has moved beyond just owning a car to a rich menu of transportation services.

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