Rural communities in Canada are beginning to tap into electric vehicle rentals to fill a gap in local transportation options, with three townships in Renfrew County, Ontario leading the way with an upcoming pilot project.
Bonnechere Valley, North Algona Wilberforce, and Whitewater Region will each acquire one electric SUV and two EV chargers, so that locals can rent the vehicles for daily errands or other trips, Electric Autonomy Canada reports. The communities are waiting for word of financial support from the federal Rural Transit Solutions Fund, and hoping to launch the pilots next summer.
“We don’t have Uber out here,” said Bonnechere Valley Chief Administrative Officer Annette Gilchrist. “There are some taxi services about half an hour away. So there’s really not a lot of options coming through here other than a vehicle.”
So “if we have to have more cars on the road, we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could have one that’s shared and one that’s green.”
The current plan is to charge program participants C$1 per membership, then $2 to $5 per hour for rentals that can run up to 24 hours. The total cost of the project comes in at $438,000.
If the pilot succeeds, Gilchrist said she could see it expanding. “There are 17 lower-tier municipalities in Renfrew County, plus the City of Pembroke,” she told Electric Autonomy. “I don’t know that we all need to have multiple EVs, but what if we all had one? Would that create a big enough transit system that we’re really making a difference?”
The news story cites EV organizations in Sudbury and Toronto making the case that seeing is believing—that rentals and test drives are the best way to boost adoption.
“It takes people getting into the vehicle and driving it themselves for them to understand the benefits,” said Sudbury EV Society President Devin Arthur. “If you’re just reading about it, it’s just words. It’s just data on a page that you may not necessarily agree with. But as soon as they get in that seat and drive, that’s the differentiating factor.”
Test drives are also available in rural communities in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, Electric Autonomy says.