Car-Sharing a ‘Gateway’ to E-Car Adoption
Car-sharing fleets can help solve two related hurdles in the way of electrifying personal transportation, advocates argue: overcoming apprehension among drivers, and mobilizing users to justify faster expansion of EV charging infrastructure.
Car- and ride-sharing fleets introduce future car buyers to electric vehicles, providing a “gateway” experience that drives growing public and market support for EVs in general and additional charging points in particular, InsideClimate News reports.
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A much larger network of charging locations is seen as critical to shifting millions of automobile owners from internal combustion to electric motors. “There are only about 16,500 public charging stations in the U.S., with 45,000 charging ports, compared to more than 100,000 gas stations,” InsideClimate notes. “California alone needs more than 200,000 ports to meet projected demand by 2020.”
Chattanooga, Tennessee offers a model for translating shared rides into confidence in electric cars and demand for more charging points. An app and an account approval give users access to 20 electric Nissan Leafs stationed at charging points around the city for as little as US$7 hour. “In one year, the [city-initiated] project has sparked demand for both electric vehicles and EV infrastructure, including from housing developers interested in adding charging stations,” ICN states.
“Exposure to electric vehicles makes a difference for people,” said Alan Jenn, who studies transportation systems at the University of California-Davis.
The number of Americans using car-sharing services quadrupled between 2010 to 2014, observes Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase. “With the support of a city or transit authority, an accessible charging network, and an affordable price,” she said, “electric car-sharing can not only make transportation more climate-friendly, it can also help drive electric vehicle adoption.”