Electric charge with car-sharing

2011-09-16 12:29
Car-sharing will convert some motorists to the Nissan Leaf electric car, an analyst has said. (AP)

Car-sharing will convert some motorists to the Nissan Leaf electric car, an analyst has said. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Montreal - In a Montreal parking lot, Jean-Francois Beauchamp unhooks a power cable from his loaner car and cheerfully drives away, an enthusiastic user of a new service that is finding fans in equal measure among commuters and environmentalists.

"It's very quiet, pleasant and doesn't use gasoline," said Beauchamp, 44, a web designer and frequent user of the electric cars made available for hourly rental by the Communauto car-sharing enterprise.

His loaner vehicle is one from a fleet of petrol-free cars pointing the way forward for the increasingly popular car-share industry, which unlike a traditional car rental, allows customer to hire a vehicle for part of one day.

The Montreal-based Communauto, the oldest car-sharing company in North America, in mid-August launched the pilot project with 50 Nissan Leaf vehicles, hoping to become an industry leader of the electric loaner cars.

Communauto also is a bargain, charging about $2 (€1.50) per hour, which includes the cost of fuel, plus a subscription fee.

Popularity

Electric cars early on met with consumer resistance, but the chance to try out the vehicles in a low-risk car-share has helped to greatly increase their popularity.

"I already have a car, but I subscribed to Communauto precisely because I wanted to try out an electric car," said new convert Georges Charlebois.

Charlebois now dreams of when he'll no longer have to rent one by the day or by the hour. That day may be a long way off, however: There is a waiting list for the vehicles at his local dealership.

The most ambitious electric car-sharing plan is wildly popular, but has a downside, Beauchamp admitted.

"You have to plan ahead because you can't stop at a gas station to fill it up," he said ruefully.

Communauto has tried to alleviate that problem, installing - in partnership with the giant public utility Hydro-Quebec - car charging stations in parking lots all across Montreal.

Devoid of a conventional combustion engine, the loaner cars - emblazoned with the slogan "100% electric" - are famously quiet, so not only do they not increase air pollution, but they don't add to the city's noise pollution, either.

Marketing masterstroke

Most of the electric cars can go about 140km before needing to be recharged - although the batteries become partially replenished when the brakes are pressed, or when the vehicle is driven downhill.

Benoit Robert, CEO of Communauto, said that the company is excited about the addition of the green cars to its fleet.

"The electric car will allow us to further reduce emissions from our users," he said.

The popularity of the vehicles already is having an ecological upside, he added.

"We already are having a significant impact on reducing the rate of motorised car use by the population and this has a direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Benoit said.

Catherine Morency, a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, said the programme is a marketing masterstroke because of the synergy between the car-share and green car industries.

The arrangement also is a plus for manufacturers of green automobiles, because a wider range of renters - and potential purchasers - try out the cars before purchase.

Goals

But the two industries part ways in terms of their long-term goals: While makers of green cars are hoping to put a lot more of them on the road, Communauto seeks, in the end, to reduce the number of cars in circulation.

Car-sharing will convert at least some motorists to the electric car, thereby increasing the demand for these vehicles, predicted popular automobile columnist Denis Duquet.

"The production will increase, prices will drop and people who have used the electric car in Communauto are likely eventually to buy their own," Duqet predicted.
Read more on:    technology  |  environment
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music
 

How to maintain your mo, bro

Get some great tips on how to trim your tash - leaving you looking fantash-tic!

 
 

Men24.com

Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!
Hottie of the day: Angela
10 things you should never say after sex

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

ONE DAY ONLY – Buy 1 book & get 1 FREE!

There are 100’s of hot titles to choose from. Offer valid while stocks last. T&C’s apply. Shop now!

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.