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

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

10 Best Car Sharing Programs

Car Sharing—Revolutions Are Coming

News: GM’s Maven Moves Into the Gig Economy

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.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

News: Gig Car Share

News: Car Sharing Revolutions Are Coming; Some Are Already Here

Top 10: 10 Best Electric Cars

News: Ford eMobility Moves Take It Into New Territory

News: Is Ride Sharing Eco-Friendly

 

Road Test: 2017 Lexus ES 300h

Road Test: 2017 Lexus ES 300h

Smooth and Clean Hybrid Luxury

The Lexus ES sedan has been the brand’s entry point for a quarter century. Now, you can get your luxury blended with efficiency in hybrid form.

2017 Lexus ES 300h

The entry point for Lexus’ version of hybrid luxury

It’s well known that hybrids combine a gas engine with an electric motor, and the 2017 Lexus ES 300h gets its 200 horsepower that way. The 2.5-liter Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine is mated to a high-output permanent magnet electric drive motor. With 156 pounds-feet of torque, the smooth, quiet system pulls the 3,682-pound midsize sedan from zero to 60 mph in a refreshing 8.1 seconds. You won’t beat a Corvette off the line at a stoplight, but this car is no slug, either. And, it gives you 40 miles per gallon combined (40 city/39 highway) per the EPA while doing it. I averaged 33.1 mpg during my test week.

The 2017 Lexus ES 300h is not a plug-in vehicle, so you don’t have to do anything to benefit from the blended powertrain. The battery charges up as you slow down and brake, regenerating electricity. The fuel savings come from the engine working less.

Few Exterior Clues

The hybrid ES shows little on the outside to distinguish it from the regular model. You’ll note a subtle trunk lip spoiler and blue hybrid badges. One thing you won’t see is the exhaust. The car uses gasoline, but Lexus hid the pipe. Sneaky?

2017 Lexus ES 300h

The only clue

As a hybrid, the car earns high EPA environmental ratings, with an 8 for Smog and 9 for Greenhouse Gas. Its powertrain emits 223 grams of CO2 per mile–about half that of a normal car.

As a Lexus, the ES provides a cushier experience than the more utilitarian Prius, and exceeds the new Camry Hybrid, itself a posher entry now. The car comes in one well-equipped form, but you can add option packages, such as the Premium Package my Atomic Silver test car had. For $730, you’ll enjoy memory for the driver’s power seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel; lovely wood interior trim and remote keyless memory. There are also the Luxury and Ultra Luxury packages, both worth exploring.

The Best Option

The nicest option in my tester, though, was the Mark Levinson Premium Audio system with navigation ($2,590). With 15 speakers and 835 watts of power, you’ll be tempted to just keep driving around, or park and not leave the car when you arrive at your destination. That’s definitely a commute enhancer.

2017 Lexus ES 300h

Flaunting the wood and leather

As a luxury vehicle, my car flaunted a beautiful leather and wood steering wheel. I discovered that it was a $450 option, and well worth having. Your hands are on the wheel pretty much all the time, so it’s a high-use benefit. Other extras on my car included blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert ($500), a boon for helping prevent accidents. I also enjoyed having the power rear sunshade ($210); rear seat riders would be the beneficiaries, though.

The 2017 Lexus ES 300h offers touch-sensitive reading lamps, a feature you may not notice, but which evokes the feeling of luxury.

Four Ways to Drive

Lexus gives you four driving modes, accessed through a dial. Normal balances the hybrid to blend the engine and motor for pleasant driving. Sport leans towards performance, with later upshifts–and a red instrument panel. Eco is the opposite, designed for best achieving maximum efficiency. The EV setting lets you lock in electric-only driving for a short distance, under certain conditions.

2017 Lexus ES 300h

Four ways to go

I tested the EV setting during a slow section of my commute and it worked fine. However, when I moved past 25 mph, it automatically shut off. Later, I tried it again and got a “Hybrid Battery Low” message. Like so many electronically controlled devices, the car knows best for normal driving, but having these options gives you a little more sense of control.

The 2017 Lexus ES 300h drives like a traditional sedan, isolated and smooth. It’s packed with the modern electronics we all need for entertainment, connection, and safety.

Safety & Price

You’ll be safe in the 2017 Lexus ES 300h. The Lexus Safety System+ helps prevent accidents with High-Speed Dynamic Radar cruise control, which tracks the car in front of you and adjusts your speed automatically, preventing collisions. The pre-collision system with pedestrian detection uses radar and a camera to warn you of a possible collision and even brake automatically if needed.

2017 Lexus ES 300h

It’s real luxury that delivers fuel economy, too

Pricing is straightforward, starting at $42,795, but you can easily push it upward with packages. My tester came to $48,415, but the nearly $6,000 worth of extras made it feel like a more luxurious and special ride.

Hybrids are a good step towards the future, and Toyota/Lexus knows how to make them. Until all-electric vehicles take over, it’s the best way to “have your cake and eat it too” in the world of cars. The 2017 Lexus ES 300h offers traditional luxury and performance with a vast assortment of electronic safety, performance, environmental, and safety features.

 

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

First Drive: 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

News: 2018 Lexus RX450hL

Road Test: 2017 Lexus NX 300h

Road Test: 2016 Lexus ES 300h

Road Test: 2016 Lexus GS 450h

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.

Feature: Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Hybrid

Feature: Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Hybrid

The Choices Are Out There

In a world where there are so many options when it comes to hybrids, it can be difficult to know what counts in your life as well as what will run most efficiently. Are you interested in a plug-in hybrid? What about a hybrid that doesn’t have to be plugged in but still runs efficiently?

That’s why we’ve made a list of all of the pros and the cons of buying a used hybrid that will work best for you.

Pro: Durability

Hybrids have two power trains under the hood, plus many electronic components and gadgets that make up a pretty complicated vehicle.

2017 Toyota Prius V

A used hybrid can still deliver miles of pleasure and functionality

That being said, this doesn’t mean that they’re prone to break down. In fact, they tend to be significantly more durable than their gas-guzzling comrades. If you purchase a used hybrid, you can theoretically look forward to years with little maintenance.

Just remember: Not all hybrids are created equal. Hybrids from Toyota and Lexus, or even the Cadillac ELR seem to be the most reliable according to car owners, while durability for the Ford C-Max Hybrid is 80% below the average for comparable newer vehicles.

Also, keep in mind that buying used means there’s going to be some wear. Consider getting a mechanic to look over the car before taking it too far from home.

Con: Rising Gas Prices=Rising Hybrid Prices

One of the cons of buying a Hybrid is the price tag attached to it.

While we can guarantee you’ll save some money on gas during the time you have a hybrid, we can’t guarantee the car will pay back its initial price immediately.

The plug-in version of the Toyota Prius can get the equivalent of 95 miles to every gallon with its electric boost. Without plugging in, it gets around 50 mpg. It all depends on what you decide to purchase and how often you’re driving. Maybe at some point, the amount of money you’re saving on gas will make that hefty price worth paying.

If you drive a lot, I’d say it’s probably worth it. Otherwise, consider the option of an efficient gas-powered car.

Pro: A Quiet Engine

A definite pro to purchasing a hybrid, either used or new, is the quietness of the engine. What can be more luxurious than a cruise around town with a seemingly soundless, smooth engine?

hybrid driving techniques

The hybrid badge means fuel savings, but that’s not all

A con to the quiet engine, however, is that soundless engines pose more of an issue for pedestrians, as they can’t hear an approaching vehicle running in electric mode the way they can hear a standard car running on gasoline.

Con: Winter Weather

Hybrids aren’t exactly the best vehicle for winter. The reasons for this are partially because batteries discharge significantly faster in the cold of winter than in the heat of summer.

Getting the vehicle warm can be difficult also because running a heating system is taxing on the electrical aspect of the car. Another issue may also be the lack of adhesion of low rolling resistance tires, not to mention that the slipping and sliding that occurs as the tires try to gain traction on the freezing roads will drain battery life and your fuel tank. Although this can be true for both hybrid and gas-powered vehicles.

You can guarantee that as the temperature drops outside, your fuel efficiency will most likely do the same.

Pro: Less Maintenance!

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid

More hybrids are coming on the market, which means more will be on the used market

Buying any used car is risky. But the difference between buying a used car that runs on gasoline alone and a used hybrid car is that most hybrids tend to need significantly less maintenance than gas powered cars.

There’s a myth about the batteries having to be replaced fairly often, but this hasn’t seemed to be the case in most of the newer models. If you do have to replace the battery, check a junkyard before making the plunge of purchasing a brand-new battery.

Summary

Most hybrids have less overall maintenance, better fuel efficiency and are very durable. When we consider the pros versus the cons and how they may affect your way of life, you can make a more informed decision about what will work best for you.

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In

Some hybrids plug in

In the end, this decision is going to be entirely up to you. If you love to travel, having a plug-in hybrid will mean charging a battery, and in that case, purchasing that type of hybrid may not be in your best interest.

However, the fuel-efficiency aspect of most hybrids is a definite plus for someone traveling long distances. Do you like hearing the roar of a gas-powered engine? Or is the quiet of the hybrid appealing?

Making the decision to purchase any kind of hybrid, whether plug-in or not can be difficult. But that is why we want to help you make a well-informed decision about what is going to work best for your situation. Enjoy the ride!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Top 10 Best MPG AWD/SUVs/Crossovers

Top 10 Safe Green Cars

Top 10 Cars for “Eco-Excellence”

Top 10 Green Cars Named

News: 2018 Lexus RX 450hL Hybrid Crossover

News: 2018 Lexus RX 450hL Hybrid Crossover

The Original Crossover Hybrid Gets Third Row Seats — Final-ly

At last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show automakers introduced a mixture of environmentally friendly, advanced technology vehicles along with traditional high-performance models appealing to a different market segment. At Clean Fleet Report we think there’s some high performance worth noting in the first group. This is one of several stories that will highlight the most significant news out of the show.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show the big Lexus LX SUV lost a couple of seats while the smaller RX hybrid and gas-powered crossovers gained them. This place the midsize RX in the same class of luxury three-row crossovers as the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90.

2018 Lexus RX 450hL

The Lexus crossover hybrid is bigger than ever

The new RX 450hL doesn’t have a longer wheelbase to accommodate the additional seating as you might expect. Instead, Lexus stretched the standard RX hybrid by 4.3 inches in the back and carved some space out of the cargo area. The cargo area is on the tight side, with enough space maybe for a stroller or a couple of carry-on suitcases. Of course, putting the seats down will provide a spacious place to haul a week’s worth of groceries.

Unlike its gas powered stablemate, the hybrid RX is offered only with a six-passenger layout with second-row captain’s chairs that make third-row ingress/egress easier with “walk-in” convenience. The gasoline counterpart is available in either a seven-passenger model with a second-row bench seat or second-row captain’s chairs. In either case, the second row sits slightly higher than the third, creating some much-needed foot room.

2018 Lexus RX 450hL

Here’s the expansion zone

Passenger room in the way-back seats is best suited for children 12 and younger. However, tri-zone climate control is available, and gives those in steerage control of their own ventilation. There’s also two cup holders, but alas, no USB port.

As for the RX 450hL styling, the Lexus signature spindle grille continues, set off by an elegant chrome-plated surround and standard Bi-LED headlights. Out back, the longer version has a steeper tailgate and window angle, which helps improve headroom for third-row passengers. The spindle theme repeats at the rear, with L-shaped LED taillights enveloping the tailgate and wrapping into the rear fenders.

Same Hybrid Powertrain

The 2018 RX 450hL may carry more passengers, but it continues with the same hybrid powertrain. The Lexus Hybrid Drive system pairs an Atkinson cycle 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators, producing 308 combined system horsepower. The standard all-wheel drive (AWD) system is unique. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels used on the gasoline RX 350L AWD models, an independent rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.

2018 Lexus RX 450hL

No adults allowed

Pricing isn’t available at the moment for the RX 450hL, and it will reach dealers after the gasoline version in early 2018.  

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2016 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid (Steve’s view)

Road Test: 2016 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid (Larry’s view)

Road Test: 2016 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid (John’s view)

News: New Jeep Wrangler Gets Mild Hybrid in 2018, Diesel in 2019, Plug-In Hybrid in 2020

News: New Jeep Wrangler Gets Mild Hybrid in 2018, Diesel in 2019, Plug-In Hybrid in 2020

LA Auto Show First Public Showing of Redesigned SUV

At this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show automakers introduced a mixture of environmentally friendly, advanced technology vehicles along with traditional high-performance models appealing to a different market segment. At Clean Fleet Report we think there’s some high performance worth noting in the first group. This is one of several stories that will highlight the most significant news out of the show.

The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL made its debut Wednesday at the Los Angeles auto show as one of the show’s most-anticipated reveals. And yes, the new off-roader, in either two- or four-door versions, looks pretty much like the outgoing Wrangler JK. If it didn’t, there would be a massive revolt of Wranglerphiles. The vehicle is designed to have better aerodynamics, improved performance, increased fuel economy, and features some nice tech updates along with new powertrains.

Carryover and New Powertrains

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will first be available with the carryover Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine that ponies up 285 horsepower (hp) and 260 pounds-feet (lb.ft.) of torque with the option of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. All of Wrangler’s engines will now come standard with stop-start technology.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep redesigns the iconic Wrangler and promises engine upgrades

Taking baby steps towards electrification, Jeep will also offer the 2018 Wrangler with a mild hybrid powertrain with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. Called eTorque, the hybrid adds regenerative braking, stop-start and electric power assist. This system makes 270 hp and 295 lb.ft. of torque.

For the first time ever (in the U.S.), Jeep will also offer a diesel engine. The diesel version will have a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 EcoDiesel engine that exerts 260 hp and 443 lb.ft. and has an eight-speed automatic transmission. Given its extra torque, this will likely be the most appealing option for those serious about off-roading and towing. Those who opt for the diesel model, though, will also have to wait until 2019 and it will only be available in four-door models.

At the end of Jeep’s second-best selling model reveal, brand head Mike Manley announced that the Wrangler will get a plug-in hybrid model in 2020 in a move he says is “future proofing” the legendary off-roader. “A full plug-in electric Jeep Wrangler will be available in 2020, furthering our commitment to all those who value the responsible, sustainable enjoyment of the great outdoors and very importantly, future proofing this Wrangler for generations to come,” he said.

New Exterior Styling, Sort Of

The redesigned 2018 Jeep Wrangler may look strikingly similar to its immediate predecessor, but above the skid plates and beneath the removable top, longtime fans will notice the upgrades incorporated into the first Wrangler redesign since 2006.

The grille combines the best of past eras of design, while being able to stand on its own. It has returned to the classic keystone shape with new, larger headlights intruding on the outboard slats, reminiscent of the first post-war flat-fender Jeeps. Keen eyes might also notice the return of the kink in the grille, which was last seen on YJs and XJs, a once-stalwart Jeep styling cue that retakes its rightful home at the front of the JL.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

There are little details–like the taillights–that translate the Jeep fun factor

Overall length for the two-door is 166.8 inches, a growth spurt of a little over two inches. The four-door grows 3.5 inches compared to the JK, for an overall length of 188.4; a little over an inch of that is used to improve rear-seat legroom. The Wrangler JL’s track width grows one inch to 62.9 inches, while ground clearance is up across the board. Likewise, approach, breakover and departure angles are increased compared to standard JKs.

A Classy Interior

Inside the cabin, the Wrangler’s once-a-decade overhaul really takes off, starting with long-overdue upgrades of its infotainment system and information cluster. A five-inch touchscreen will be available on the low-end Sport models, with either seven- or optional 8.4-inch touchscreen displays available on upper trims, including optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The instrument cluster will feature either a 3.5-inch or seven-inch information screen, depending on the trim level. The new Wrangler will get push-button start for the first time, while its seats will have adjustable bolster and lumbar supports, and available heated front seats and steering wheel.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The interior gets a much-needed upgrade

Window controls are still in the center stack, as are a set of four auxiliary switches ready for lights, compressor or other electric needs. The dashboard grab handle even has a flat spot to mount a radio mic or other device. A new powered Sky one-touch system allows a driver to retract the Wrangler’s canvas soft top with the touch of a button.

Also included are 75 active and passive safety features, including a backup camera and available blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection. Plus, Jeep didn’t ignore rear seat passengers, with an additional inch of legroom, a seat back angled more deeply and, for the first time, a center armrest with cup holders.

So far, fuel economy ratings have been revealed only for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited models with the carryover engine. It earned mpg ratings of 18 city/23 highway/20 combined with the eight-speed automatic, and 17 city/23 highway/19 combined with the six-speed manual transmission. Pricing will be announced closer to its arrival in dealer showrooms in January.