By John Addison (updated 9/15/12; original 8/30/12))
With the backing of the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, automakers and auto drivers, 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) is now the law. If automakers by 2025 have sales that don’t average 54.5 MPG, they pay penalties. The real 2025 penalty is that without good mileage, automakers would fail to compete in the global market and therefore fail financially. The U.S. is moving in the right directions with bi-partisan support. Amazing.
One million members of car sharing programs are not waiting for great mileage. Many are already driving cars with better than 54 MPG thanks to innovative programs from Zipcar, Enterprise, Hertz, car2go, and other car sharing providers. These billion dollar giants are expanding into car sharing of fuel-sipping hybrids andto make money. They are betting millions that the future will make them billions.
Car sharing fleets include plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars that achieve over 54 MPG and in some cases over 100 MPG. I’ve driven many of these cars. Their fleets also include hybrids that get close to 54 MPG today and will surpass the standard within 3 years.
ZipCar has 730,000 members who reserve and use cars by the hour. Theirhave been popular with members in cities, universities, and fleets. Zipcar in Houston is now adding 25 Nissan LEAFs, all-electric cars with an EPA rating of 99 MPG (the EPA provides an equivalent MPG rating for electric cars). The new EV fleet partnership of Zipcar and the City of Houston is called Houston Fleet Share. Through this program, 50 existing city-owned fleet vehicles, including 25 Nissan LEAFs, are outfitted with Zipcar’s FastFleet® proprietary fleet sharing technology.
“Houston is setting the pace for sustainability efforts, and we are very proud to be working with Zipcar to launch the nation’s first-ever municipal EV green fleet sharing program,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “Although we’ve always been known as the oil capital of the world, we’re gaining momentum on being the energy capital through programs like Houston Fleet Share and the Houston Drives Electric initiative.”
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 Zipcar also has 5 Chevrolet Volts. DC officials estimate that they save approximately $1 million per year using FastFleet technology. Over the next 18 months, Zipcar is also adding 30 Honda Fit Electrics for all of its members. The Fit EV is in SF now, with LA and Portland following. By 2014, at least 30 of Honda’s all-electric cars will be in the Zipcar fleet.
Although Enterprise is known as a car rental giant, they have expanded into carsharing for individuals and fleets with a program rich in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars. Enterprise recently acquired Mint Cars On-Demand, a car-sharing company serving more than 8,000 members in New York City and Boston. By year’s end, all of Enterprise’s car-sharing services throughout the country – including WeCar by Enterprise, PhillyCarShare and Mint – will be transitioned to the Enterprise Car Share brand name with over 60,000 members.
For example, Enterprise’s PhillyCarShare added Chevrolet Volts, rated at 98 MPG, at Temple University which has five Blink EV charging stations so that students and members of the car share program can drive plug-in hybrids when needed. Parent company Enterprise has ordered 1,000 Chevrolet Volts and Nissan LEAFs for rental car and car sharing locations from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
Hertz leverages its huge presence as it expands with 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 global car share program, Hertz on Demand, launched in December 2008 and has grown to more than 700 vehicles, 85,000 members and more than 500 locations worldwide, including corporate fleets, airports, hotels, utilities, government, and universities. The Hertz car share fleet includes many Nissan LEAFs, Chevrolet Volts, Smart Electric Drive,which is rated at 112 MPG.
Last November, I drove new 2012 smart fortwo electric drive vehicle (smart ed), rated at 87 MPG, through the busy downtown streets of San Diego, America’s eighth largest city. I drove the electric car from a transit depot to Balboa Park, a popular destination with its vast acres, museums, and famous San Diego Zoo. I parked the car, signed-off and walked away. As a journalist, I got a free drive. For car2go members, this trip would have cost $3 or $4, and without the hassle of car rental or bus transfers. Car2go is a point-to-point car sharing service. You pay 35 cents a minute. If you use lots of minutes, you’re automatically lowered to $12.99 per hour. Keep the electric car overnight and pay $65.99 per day. No surprise fees are charged for being early or late, like some other car sharing services. Car2go is a division of global auto giant Daimler, whose brands include Mercedes.
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. Daimler’s competitor, BMW, is now bringing its DriveNow car share service to the United States where it has 70 of its ActiveE electric cars being driven by car share members in San Francisco. The ActiveE is rated at 102MPG.
In mobile phone and tablet usage, there is more money in services than hardware. This is increasingly on the minds of auto executives as they look to the future of global urban mobility.
For eleven years, City Car Share has been a pioneer in car sharing and electric car sharing, with Zipcar, Enterprise, Hertz, and others learning from their success. City Car Share’s fleet includes about 20 all-electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi I as well as plug-in hybrids Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Plug-in which is rated at 95 MPG.
Solar andare increasingly used to charge electric vehicles. For example, I-GO Car Sharing in Chicago has 16 solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations at several retail locations, transit stations, municipal lots, Illinois Institute of Technology, and suburbs including Evanston and Oak Park. Each solar charging station includes a canopy that covers four parking spaces and will be able to power two electric vehicles. Two spaces will be reserved for I-GO at each location. The others will be available to the public. The canopies are expected to produce enough electricity to power 600,000 driving miles for plug-in vehicles.
Within three years, hybrid cars, not just electric cars, will start to deliver over 54 MPG. The Toyota Prius now delivers 50 MPG and the new crossover Ford C-MAX Hybrid delivers 47 MPG with the room of a small SUV. In the next 3 years these vehicles will go farther as weight is reduced by replacing steel with stronger composites, engines will continue to be more efficient, electric motors more dominate in drive system utilization, and lithium batteries with more storage will replace NiMH batteries.
The 2025 CAFÉ standard is forecasted to save U.S. drivers $1.7 trillion in fuel costs at today’s oil prices of about $100 per barrel. If the price of oil is higher in 2025, consumers will save more. If they use a mix of increased car sharing, transit and rail, they will save trillions.