Get in, buckle up, push the start button, put it in forward, push the right pedal, and go. Driving the new Toyota Scion IQ EV the day before the official press release was a real treat, not an October Halloween promotion trick. Feeling like a good dance shoe or ski boot, quick, positive, solid, no […]
As I drive Toyota’s sporty new electric car, sun streams through the red and yellow fall colors that grace Denver’s downtown. This is the new 2013 Scion iQ EV, Toyota’s fourth electric car that joins the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, FCHV, and the RAV4 EV all-electric SUV. This iQ-EV is a micro-compact all-electric city car.
America leads the world in carsharing with one million members – some 65% of the global market. For many people living in university towns and cities, transit, walking, bicycling, and carsharing meets their mobility needs. They do not own a car. For others, carsharing allows households to own only one car, instead of two or three. For many Americans, their first chance to drive an electric car has been in carsharing where costs are as low as $7 per hour or even 35 cents per minute to drive the new electric cars from Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Smart, BMW and other automakers.
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. Many are already driving cars with better than 54 MPG thanks to innovative programs from Zipcar, Enterprise, Hertz, car2go, and other car sharing providers.
It’s never been easier to get into an electric car and drive away. I hold my Drive Now card to the window of this BMW ActiveE, the car unlocks and I take the driver’s seat. I type in my 4-digit passcode, touch Start, shift into Drive and away I go. Today, BMW has added 70 of its electric cars to a unique car-sharing program in San Francisco. I drive a dozen blocks to a parking garage near a meeting at the Marriott. I park the car, log-off with a push of the button, use my membership card to lock the car and I’m done.
One million people around the world are members of a carsharing program offered by Zipcar, Enterprise, Hertz, some innovative regional service, and even programs that let one person make money sharing with others in the community. Electric car owners can use car rental and car share to get hybrid cars that can take them beyond EV range, when they need SUV cargo space, and when they need AWD for snow and storms. For gasoline car owners, car share programs allow drivers to try an electric car for a few hours.
Volkswagen’s “Think Small” is ranked as the most successful campaign in advertising history. Electric city cars are a great match for small car lovers. Most city drivers need far less than the range of smaller electric cars which may be limited to 50 miles on highways but double that cruising city streets and benefitting from regenerative braking. The electric city car sales leader is the Mitsubishi i. It can be purchased for $29,125, which is about $6,000 less than the larger Nissan LEAF.
I drive this electric smart fortwo to Balboa Park, a popular destination with its vast acres, museums, and famous San Diego zoo. We park the car, sign-off and walk away. If we were paying members, this trip would have cost us only $3 or $4. We got there in minutes 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 your automatically lowered $12.99 per hour. Keep the electric car overnight and pay $65.99 per day.
Hertz expands its Global EV initiative to China, making it the first global rental car company to offer electric cars on three continents. Hertz now offers the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Smart ED, Tesla Roadster and other electric cars in U.S. cities including New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Hertz is expanding the availability of pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids at airports, downtown hotels, university campuses, condos and co-ops and fleets.
It was an easy walk from our downtown Madrid hotel to the train station. In less than 3 hours on high-speed rail, we crossed the country to Barcelona. I looked out the window as we traveled at 185 miles per hour leaving the hot plains for the cooler Mediterranean. Traveling car free made the vacation relaxed, talking with locals easy, and neighborhoods a joy to walk. Exciting new last mile transit solutions are used by millions including bicycle sharing, P2P car sharing, personal rapid transit, and pilots of new urban mobility
Google has deployed more than 70 charging stations at its worldwide headquarters in Mountain View, CA. Over 100 employees who own electric cars use the charging stations, as well as the company’s growing car sharing program for Googlers (GFleet), which includes Chevrolet Volts, Nissan LEAFs and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids. With plans for 250 more charging stations on its campus, and a goal to make 5 percent of its campus parking EV-ready, Google’s installation is the largest workplace charging installation for electric vehicles in the country.
Thanks to Connect by Hertz Car Sharing, cars can be used by the hour for special trips, loading up during weekly shopping, or heading out of the city. Those hourly cars can also be electric such as the Nissan LEAF or Chevrolet Volt. Connect by Hertz is adding the LEAF to Manhattan’s Seward Park Co-op. In an effort to make electric cars a viable option for its residents, Seward Park has installed four Coulomb Technologies networked charging.
There is no one correct answer for the best vehicle, or even type of vehicle, to best save gas and save the planet. People have different needs at different times of their life, and different driving conditions. Michael enjoyed living car-free when he went to the university but love, marriage, and parenthood meant getting a car. When the children are grown, Michael and Beth plan to return to one vehicle.
The Eubank family was interested in replacing one of their SUVs with a fuel-efficient car. A typical SUV in the United States produces about 12 tons of CO2 emissions per year; a fuel-efficient hybrid only one-third that amount. Safety and storage were major concerns in their decision. Without sacrificing safety or vehicle needs, the Eubanks now live in better harmony with their values about energy security and being environmentally friendly.
You can make a difference. The first chapters of Save Gas, Save the Planet will help you consider what you want in your next car. There are also many ways to reduce miles and improve fuel economy with your current car. Your actions and your words will influence more people than you expect. None of these are all-or-nothing ideas. Consider realistic improvements for yourself, your family, your friends, and your community.