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.
Hertz is beginning to offer electric cars to members of Connect by Hertz, the car sharing service that competes with Zipcar. Starting next week, Connect by Hertz will be offering the Smart ED to New York City members. Hertz is starting with the Smart ED, but will expand next year to include battery-electric and plug-in hybrid offerings from Nissan, Chevrolet, Toyota, and other cars in more cities.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be renting the Nissan LEAF electric car next year in key locations. In January it will start taking delivery of the LEAF with plans for 500 by the end of 2011. This is the first phase of its plans to offer electric vehicles (EVs) at select offices throughout its neighborhood network of more than 5,000 U.S. locations. I had breakfast with Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, National Car Rental, and WeCar Sharing. Enterprise Holdings owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of passenger vehicles.
The Smart Fortwo is popular with city drivers that need to avoid $25 daily parking fees by fitting in spots to small for others. In 2010, 250 battery electric smart cars will be put on the streets of U.S. cities. Early in 2012, Smart plans to make over 10,000 Smart Electric Drives for sales globally and be a major player in urban electric cars. The new Smart Electrics deliver an 80-mile range per charge with a 16.5kWh lithium ion battery pack that consists of 18,650 Tesla format cells. Daimler owns Smart, Mercedes, and about 4 percent of Tesla.