News: Byton Introduces Electric SUV

News: Byton Introduces Electric SUV

All-Electric SUV Features Massive Display Screen

Finally, it looks like one of the Chinese-financed, Silicon Valley-oriented electric vehicle startups appears to be paying attention to the current market. Byton, headquartered in Nanjing, China, but with design offices in Munich, a technology office in Silicon Valley and three other Chinese offices, introduced its first concept car at CES yesterday. It’s all-electric, of course, but more important, it’s a midsize SUV/crossover.

Byton Concept

The overall shape is not revolutionary, but the powertrain is–for a crossover

That exterior may be less important than the interior from Byton’s perspective, but more on that later. When Clean Fleet Report was on a tour of Byton’s Silicon Valley offices last month, the details offered on the car were sketchy, but intriguing. The company’s up-front partnership with key suppliers—Robert Bosch and Fuerencia—was highlighted. Those relationships, usually hidden or minimized by both OEMs and startup EV companies, were presented as proofpoints of the viability of the Byton operation. The technology, much of it coming from the Santa Clara, Calif., office, including huge display screens with sophisticated human-machine interface (HMI) options, an extensive use of facial recognition and a high level of autonomous technology. None of this was exception on its own (something shared by the car itself), but the total package appears to be Byton’s main value proposition.

Speaking of value proposition, the company said it expects the car to retail for about $45,000 when it comes to the U.S. in 2020. It will first be retailed in China, where it will be built. The platform architecture on which the unnamed SUV will be built will underpin the two following models, a sedan and a multipurpose vehicle (van in Chinese parlance) that will follow in 2031 and 2022.

Coming in Two Flavors

The 5-door SUV, which follows the basic shape and layout of its gas, diesel and hybrid competitors, will come in two flavors. The entry-level two-wheel drive model, which will start at $45,000, will have a single 268 horsepower (hp, 200 kW) motor driving the rear wheels and backed by a 71 kWh battery that delivers a promised 248-mile range. The four-wheel drive version will pack two motors with a total of 402 hp (300 kW) and a 95 kWh battery pack good for a 323 mile range. It’s pricing hasn’t been announced. Like most fast-charge capable EVs, the Byton will be able to recharge to 80 percent of capacity within 30 minutes at a rate of 12 kW/minute.

The whole package is in a 115-inch wheelbase, 191-inch overall midsize crossover, a slightly longer wheelbase than the category stalwart Lexus RX 450, but within a couple inches in overall length.

The Big Screen

Byton’s big news—and we aren’t throwing hyperbole this time—is inside. The front seat passengers will be confronted with a 49-inch wide, 9.8-inch high screen that will recognize the occupants and deliver personalized entertainment and information. It will respond to voice, gesture and touch. It’s augmented by an eight-inch screen in the steering wheel, another first, and two large screens on the seat backs for any rear passengers. The comparisons about cars becoming iPhones on wheels are becoming a physical reality. At the company’s Silicon Valley launch, executives

Byton Concept

Screens accompany you and interact with you throughout the Byton

The front seats from Faurencia swivel in 12 degrees to facilitate activities while the car is in autonomous mode. The initial models are expected to ship with Level 3 autonomy, similar to what is currently found in Teslas and the latest Cadillac, but Byton expects a Level 4 system to be enabled with a software upgrade by the time the cars come to America.

At the Silicon Valley headquarters launch, Dr. Daniel Kirchert, an automobile industry veteran who is president and co-founder of Byton, talked frankly about the financial aspects of a startup. While they have a Chinese plant with a production capacity of 300,000 vehicles/year under construction, they expect to use the driveable concept they just introduced (they had three on stage) as part of a fundraising campaign they’ll undertake at mid-year. Like many EV concepts we’ve seen during the past couple years, the Byton still has some ground to cover before it can join the rank of auto companies.

Other CES Stories:

News: 2019 Hyundai Nexo FCEV

News: Kia Introduces Niro EV Concept

News: Fisker Introduces EMotion for High Rollers

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News: Lucid Motors Introduces High-end Electric Car    

Flash Drive: Delphi & Tula Teach an Engine to Dance

Flash Drive: Delphi & Tula Teach an Engine to Dance

48-Volt Hybrids+Advanced Cylinder Deactivation Is Coming

I have driven the car of the future. Not some distant, expensive, exotic future, but a future that is going to start to define the cars you drive over the next few years. To check off the usual suspects—the car didn’t fly, wasn’t self-driving and wasn’t even fully electric or fueled by hydrogen. But it was electrified with a small battery and contained an engine packed with brand-new software.

Delphi 48-volt

The car of the near-future still uses gas, but ups the efficiency quotient

The car was provided by one of the world’s top automotive suppliers—Delphi Technologies—and demonstrated a side of the “future car” discussion sometimes lost here in Silicon Valley where I reside. We are going through revolutionary times—yes—but the future may end up being defined by more incremental changes.

The changes inside the Volkswagen Passat I drove were born out of the software revolution and battery advances coming out of Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the automotive world, but their implementation in a car is subtle. The computer power in a modern automobile continues to grow. This software taps into it to wring more efficiency from a traditional engine at minimal cost. Dropping a battery into a car is old news at this point, but the costs of doing it has been dropping this past decade, while the power derived from a battery continues to grow.

Two Key Factors

Sometimes we may forget that car companies are not there just to turn out world-changing, dazzling new machines. For most auto companies–the bottom line is the bottom line. They’re in business to make money as well as cars, much as are the technology and supplier companies contributing the parts and pieces that make up a modern automobile. Electric cars are great, but they are expensive and are not yet selling at volumes high enough to drive down costs draatically.

Another factor are government regulations worldwide that are driving auto companies to lower-CO2 cars, with electrification is the logical path to get there. So, for a profit-driven automaker (and that’s all of them), the quest is to electrify and drive down emissions (and increase fuel efficiency) at the most reasonable cost.

Enter Suppliers   

Suppliers live to solve automakers problems. They recognize that while they have one foot in the present, solving immediate issues of cost and volume production, they also have to address longer term solutions. So Dephi has a division focused on full electric powertrains and plans to bring that into the mix during the coming years.

In the meantime, as CTO Mary Gustanski said at a recent media briefing: “In 2025 95 percent of all light-duty vehicles will still have internal combustion engines,” but will still have to meet stringent emissions regulations and remain affordable. Gustanski sees Delphi as having the value proposition that gives automakers the biggest fuel economy boost for the least cost. The technologies are:

  • Gas direct-injection engines
  • Engine control software to enhance efficiency of the engine
  • Proprietary Tula software that allows individual cylinder deactivation
  • Delphi 48-volt

    The key of the eDSF 48V system is it all fits under the hood

    A 48-volt mild hybrid system  

Gustanski added that Delphi’s secret sauce is system integration, which is where the cost is wrung out of the package. The Passat I drove with the system claimed to deliver at least a 15 percent CO2 reduction (they’re aiming for 20 percent) with increased low-end torque for improved acceleration and seamless start-stop operation. The incremental cost is in the hundreds of dollars to the OEM, according to Delphi. The company expects systems like this, incorporating 48-volt batteries, to grab 20 percent of the new car market by 2025.

Scott Bailey, Tula Technology’s CEO, called this “smarter fuel efficiency,” using the increased computer power found in a vehicle to “dynamically right-size the engine.” Its Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) system uses algorithms added to the engine control software only run as many cylinders as are needed under each different driving situation. The driver controls the action via the accelerator. Ask for more power and it is there; coast down and the engine rests. The Tula software also factors in engine balance so its operation is transparent to the operator. 

We’ve had a trial run with the Tula software before and were impressed with its functionality. Adding in a 48-volt hybrid battery takes the system to a new level. The fuel economy gains may not be as dramatic as a plug-in hybrid, but the cost of the system promises to bring exceptional fuel economy and a better driving experience to a broad range of cars. Although neither Delphi or Tula would disclose the manufacturer, they said the DSF package as a stand-alone is already getting close to production while they expect the  eDSF package to follow soon after. But both supplier companies also added that they think they can wring even more efficiency out of the old ICE. So hang on.  

New Engine Tech 

In a competitive sport, there are at least two approaches to getting a win. One is to go for the knock-out punch, overwhelming your opponent with power, skill and strength. It’s risky and can be costly if you have a misstep. Think surprise knockout by a challenger going against an overconfident foe. A second strategy is the one for the long game–

Delphi 48-volt

The car of the future may be more like today’s — but better

if we’re sticking with the boxing analogy, think Ali’s rope-a-dope. Keep in the game by wearing down your opponent by being better, getting in a few more punches, playing a smarter and better game. 

The auto industry is no boxing match; it’s closer to a rugby scrum on some days, but the tactics above are often on display. Delphi Technologies, the automotive powertrain and propulsion portion of what once was Delphi (the other, now separate part is Aptiv, which is focused on mobility solutions, smart vehicle architectures and connected cars). While they are developing electric car technology,  they see a long game with the internal combustion engine and will be showcasing some of their latest counterpunches at CES next week. Their punch–take a sophisticated cylinder deactivation technology and mate it with 48-volt mild electrification for substantial fuel economy gains with no loss of performance.

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.

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Tech: New 48-Volt Mild Hybrids Coming

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.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2018!

We wish all of you a very Happy New Year! We hope 2017 was as good for you as it was for us here at Clean Fleet Report. We published more articles than in any previous year, covered breaking news of new models and tested cars of all shapes and sizes. The team of John Faulkner, Larry Hall, Steve Schaefer and Nick Zatopa dug deep and brought you up close to all of the important stories this year.

It’s a great time to be focused on green cars as the number of EVs, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and high-mileage gas and diesel vehicles continues to climb. And autonomous technology and connected vehicles promise to become a part of our daily lives. This has been a great year for us, but we think 2018 promises to be even more exciting. Glad to have you along for the ride.

Look for some surprises in January!

Michael Coates

Editor & Publisher

Clean Fleet Report

Tesla Model 3

The Mode 3 is just one of the stories we’ll be covering in 2018

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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10 Best Car Sharing Programs

Car Sharing—Revolutions Are Coming

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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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