Electric cars have emerged from pipe dream to almost mainstream the last few years. Many small companies have entered the market in the hopes that their electric vehicle will catch on; Nissan, Chevy, and other large manufacturers have rolled out, or will soon launch, their own model.
Plenty of challenges exist, however. Consumers must be convinced that range of 100 to 150 miles per charge is perfectly acceptable, which should be a no-brainer when most people do not drive that much per day. Few of us make that weekend driving trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles or between Houston and Dallas, but it is ingrained in us that we need a car with a long range “just in case” we have to make that trip. Finally, the car companies and the utilities need to work on having those level-two charging stations installed in homes with ease and without hassle. But one compelling tactic to educate the public on electric cars is to allow folks to simply borrow them.
Move About, a car sharing company based in Oslo Norway, has a role in the introduction of electric cars to the public. After all, the service works like ZipCar or similar schemes in the USA and Europe. The process works the same: you reserve your car online, pick it up, drive about, and then you’re done. The only caveat: the cars are all electric vehicles. The program started in Central Oslo in May, and has since opened up shop in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Copenhagen. Users pay a monthly membership fee of US$17 and then about US$17 per hour to borrow the car. For now there is no mileage charge, booking fee, or insurance cost. The cars are the Think City EV, and are manufactured by a Norwegian firm that also has an office in Dearborn, Michigan. The company just reached a milestone: its 1000th member.
The cars are well, tiny and cute, which could be a problem if they are to catch on in the US. Nevertheless, car sharing programs could be a great way for EV, PHEV, and any-acronym-EV manufacturers to showcase their new models to the public. Oh and yes, those other features are important too: no emissions, no gas to fill, a quiet ride, and in the city, a vehicle that is even easy to park. For many drivers, EV technology is too new—a car sharing program could be a great step alongside a mass marketing campaign.