San Diego Gets 300 Electric Cars for Car2Go Car Sharing

San Diego Gets 300 Electric Cars for Car2Go Car Sharing

car2go electric carBy John Addison (11/10/11)

I am driving the new 2012 smart fortwo electric drive vehicle (smart ed) through the busy downtown streets of San Diego, America’s eighth largest city. San Diego presents itself as “America’s Finest City” with some justification. The temperature is in the sixties on this November day as ships sail in the vast harbor, towering office buildings offer dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, and active people are in motion.

This little electric car is a weapon against the growing gridlock that grinds drivers to a halt for minutes or hours in morning and evening freeway traffic. I speak from the experience of driving I-15 and I-5 to conferences or when shuttling kids for family and friends. This new approach to electric car sharing now allows people to take express buses down HOV lanes and Coaster Rail from North Country to and from work, with car2go solving the problem of traveling the last one to 3 miles to work and popular destinations.

Walter Rosenkranz, a manager with car2go shows me how it works. Like any member, he displays the car2go app on his smartphone, sees the location of an available electric smart car a block away. Since this car is charging, he disconnects the Blink Level 2 charger then holds his car2go RFID card next to the car window. Walter kindly puts me behind the wheel then enters his pass code into the car2go navigation display on the dash of the car. I start the car and we take off in silence.

I drive us 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, you’re automatically lowered to $12.99 per hour. Keep the electric car overnight and pay $65.99 per day. No surprise fees are charged for being early or late, like some other car sharing services.

This point-to-point car sharing service has proven itself in Austin, Texas, with hundreds of the gasoline sipping smart fortwo. San Diego is an excellent choice for the electric car sharing, since a fast network of Blink and other level 2 chargers are being installed in public areas. SDG&E supplies the electricity using a generation mix that is 20 percent renewable, nuclear, and natural gas. There are zero coal power plants in California. San Diego already has over 1,000 drivers of Nissan LEAFs, Chevrolet Volts, Tesla Roadsters and other electric cars. San Diego Smart Grid / Electric Vehicle Report.

Convenient Program

The rental does not need to be ended every time at a charging station. However, if the battery capacity (state of charge) is lower than 20 percent, rentals must be finished at one of the charging stations, which are displayed in the on-board navigation. If the battery level is lower than 40 percent, drivers will receive 10 free minutes for re-charging the car. The charging does not need to be completed before a car2go can be rented again: if there is a minimum 50 percent state of charge, the vehicle is available for the next customer.

All 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles are equipped with latest telematics technology, allowing fully automated, easy and convenient rental operations. It allows customers to rent the cars spontaneously without having the burden to commit to a specific return time or location.

Behind the scenes car2go uses GPS and information technology to track where every car is located and their state-of-charge (SOC). Members can report everything from driving problems to dirty interiors through the car2go navi system or with an email or call. A maintenance team is put in place to clean cars. Customer service telephone support is available. At times bunches of cars will need to be relocated. For example, a growing number of cars could accumulate at a destination like Sea World and need to be moved to a popular pick-up point such as a train or transit center.

Smart Electric Drive is More Powerful

I look for a steep hill. The smart ED reaches 25 mph in one block, convincing me that it has the power for its San Diego service area. The version 2 drive system is an improvement over version 1. It does not have the power of a Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt or Mitsubishi i. I am not convinced this EV can handle the steepest hills of North Vancouver where car2go uses the more powerful gasoline smart fortwo. Next Spring, however, version 3 of the smart ed will have a drive system as powerful as the Mitsubishi i.

The smart fortwo electric drive vehicle is a two-seat city car. Only 8 feet long, it can fit in parking spaces that other cars cannot, a most useful feature in cities. The electric car looks just like its gasoline cousin the smart fortwo. The first generation of this smart ed was underpowered for hills with an electric motor with only a third the power of competitor Mitsubishi i. The version-two car, which is being put into daily car share and fleet use, has doubled the power of the electric motor. Version 3 will be the smart electric that becomes available in a year or two for individuals to buy or lease through dealers. That smart ed will out power the Mitsubishi I with a 55kW EM-motive electric motor, a joint venture of Daimler and Bosch. The vehicle will have 16kW of lithium battery pack, up from the 14kW in the car that I’m driving.

 

Daimler is the parent company of Car2go. In the U.S. we best know Daimler for its Mercedes cars. Daimler also owns smart. Although most individuals and fleets own cars, a growing number lease, rent, or simply use a car as an on-demand service. Car sharing has about one million members in the U.S. and the numbers are growing to include many who also own cars. Daimler is ahead of the curve to expand into car sharing.

Car2go started in Austin, Texas, with 200 smart fortwo gasoline cars in this useful point-to-point model. The car2go program is already very successful in the German cities of Ulm and Hamburg, and the Canadian city of Vancouver. More than 45,000 members have used the 1,100 car2go more than 900,000 times. The average duration of a car2go rental is between 15 and 60 minutes and the average range lies between 5 and 10 kilometers.

Its first two cities for electric car sharing are San Diego and Amsterdam, each opening in November 2011 with 300 electric cars each. Both cities currently have networks of hundreds of electric car charging points. By the end of 2012, each city will have over 1,000 charge points.

Expansion to at least 40 additional European cities will include a joint venture between Europocar and car2go.

Car Rental and Car Sharing Competition Put 5,000 Electric Cars into Service

The innovative electric car share program gives car2go competitive advantage, but it does face formidable competition. The giant in car sharing is Zipcar that is testing a few electric cars from San Francisco to Philadelphia.

Rental car giant Enterprise has 150 electric cars now available for rental. Many customers will prefer the Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts that are offered. By the end of 2012, Enterprise expects to be renting at least 1,000 electric cars including business programs for fleets and large multi-tenant complexes. Enterprise has expanded into car sharing with WeCar. Enterprise has a vast fleet of cars that can be rented in one location and left at another. Hertz also has Nissan LEAF rental pilots and has also entered the car sharing business with Hertz On Demand.

There is a friendly competition between German headquartered Daimler and French headquartered Autolib. Paris is trying 66 electric city cars in a point-to-point Autolib Blue Cars in a point-to-point car share program. The goal is to have 3,000 of these electric city cars available in Paris by the end of 2012 expanding on 20,000 Velib shared bicycle program now successful in the City of Light.

The race is on to provide us with more convenient choices as we navigate our busy lives. With smart phones and smart apps we can make our best choices during the day of using transit, driving our own cars solo when necessary, and using electric car share to start at one point and finish at another.

Enterprise Starts Renting the Chevrolet Volt Electric Car

Enterprise Starts Renting the Chevrolet Volt Electric Car

Chevy VOLTBy John Addison (1/6/11)

Thousands of Potential Locations for EV and PEV Car Rental and Car Share

Enterprise Rent-A-Car picked the perfect place to start renting the Chevrolet Volt. It is right in the middle of Southern California’s hot electric car market at the Mark Christopher Auto Center in Ontario, California. Daily people test drive hundreds of Chevrolet, Cadillac, and other GM cars. Rentals at car dealerships are ideal for letting people drive EVs in real world conditions.

This will be the first Chevrolet Volt available for daily and weekly rentals. Later this month the Volt will be available in Ontario, along with a new charging station. One hour away, Enterprise is currently renting its first Nissan Leaf in Carson, California.

Enterprise is just getting started and plans to leverage its network of more than 6,000 rental locations throughout the United States to connect customers with EV technology.  Enterprise is also installing charging stations at select nationwide locations where the EVs will be available so customers can learn about the EV charging process. More than 5,000 of these Enterprise Rent-A-Car offices are located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population.  As Enterprise Rent-A-Car continues to add EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles throughout its network, more customers will have an opportunity to try the new technology for consideration of purchase, out of curiosity, or to choose an environmentally friendly car rental option. It also gives customers a chance to learn more about the charging process.

“Purchase demand for electric vehicles has been impressive, and we anticipate similar demand from rental customers,” said Jeff Morrell, vice president of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. “Making the Volt available will provide an extended test drive for curious customers, for those with cars being serviced and for those interested in possibly purchasing an EV.”

Enterprise Stays Ahead of Hertz and Zipcar

Additional EVs will be offered at other Enterprise locations as manufacturers make them available.  For example, 500 Nissan LEAFs will be available at select Enterprise locations nationwide, and on-site charging stations will be installed to support the vehicles.  Charging stations already have been installed at Enterprise offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Monica, Calif.

“EVs can be charged using a standard 110-volt home outlet, or a 220-volt home or public charger, or 480-volt commercial “fast” charging station,” states Enterprise. Most pure battery-electric cars, like the Nissan Leaf, can travel about 100 miles on a single charge, accommodating the travel habits of the daily commuter, who drives an average of approximately 40 miles a day.  However, an extended-range EV like the Volt can travel further due to an on-board gas-powered generator.

Enterprise also competes with Zipcar and other car sharing services with WeCar, which has locations in 17 states. WeCar offers cars by the hour university students, individuals, and fleets that do not want to own all of their cars. Google has 11 WeCar Priuses that are converted to be plug-in hybrids. WeCar will offer more plug-in vehicles. Part of the growth is driven by corporate, university, and government fleets. Enterprise Holdings also owns and operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, and National Car Rental brands.

Enterprise Orders 500 Nissan LEAF Electric Cars

Enterprise Orders 500 Nissan LEAF Electric Cars

Nissan LEAFBy John Addison (updated 9/14/10; original 8/3/10)

Electric Car Potential in Fleet of 1 Million Vehicles

Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be renting the Nissan LEAF electric car in key locations in 2011. 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.

To get more details, 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 will also offer customers electric vehicles from other manufacturers as they become available. Enterprise Holdings owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of passenger vehicles.

Mr. Broughton said, “With airport and neighborhood locations within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population, our Enterprise Rent-A-Car offices are uniquely positioned to test the market viability of new alternative fuel technologies like the electric vehicle with daily commuters nationwide.” The LEAF’s 100 mile range per electric charge will meet the needs of most car rental customers.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car initially will offer electric cars to customers in 8 markets where over 10,000 charge stations are being installed, including Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; San Diego; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle.

Beginning this October 2010, Enterprise will start pilot tests with its first Nissan LEAF in Carson, California, where it is installing its first charge station. In 2011, charging stations will be installed at select locations, including several of the Enterprise “hybrid branches” – nearly 100 designated locations which offer hybrids. Some charging will be from solar parking structures at some Enterprise locations.

Hybrid Car Rental Leader

Enterprise Holdings rents 8,000 hybrid vehicles to its individual and fleet customers. This is the world’s largest hybrid fleet. Enterprise has 450,000 cars with an average highway fuel efficiency rating of at least 28 mpg or better and nearly 230,000 that average 32 mpg or better.

Enterprise Fleet Management offers comprehensive programs to help fleet customers reduce their carbon footprint. Enterprise also works with employers in developing ride sharing programs.

WeCar Sharing

Enterprise also competes with ZipCar and other car sharing services with WeCar which has locations in 17 states. WeCar offers cars by the hour university students, individuals, and fleets that do not want to own all of their cars. Google has 11 WeCar Priuses that are converted to be plug-in hybrids. More plug-in vehicles will be offered by WeCar with part of the growth driven by B2B solutions requested by corporate, university, and government fleets.

Enterprise Sustainability

Enterprise Holdings’ introduction of electric vehicles is just one facet of a comprehensive environmental sustainability platform, which includes initiatives such as a customer carbon offset program; a pledge to plant 50 million trees over the next 50 years; and a commitment to alternative fuels research. Since 2006, Enterprise’s environmental stewardship has resulted in:

  • Establishment and funding of the Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels, which conducts biofuel research using algae, soybean and camelina.
  • A commitment to reduce both energy use and energy costs by 20 percent over the next five years.
  • With partner TerraPass, a customer carbon offset program offset 42,000 metric tons of carbon in one year.
  • The Taylor family which owns the Enterprise Holdings and their companies have contributed or pledged more than $120 million to environmental initiatives.
  • In 2010, the planting of the 5 millionth tree through the company’s 50 Million Tree Pledge, a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and U.S. Forest Service.