Zipcar Says Electric Car Sharing Is A Ways Off

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Zipcar, one of the leaders in the fast growing car sharing industry and electric cars. It would seem to be a match made in heaven. Most people that use car sharing services don’t take long trips, and the current state of electric vehicles doesn’t give you much range beyond 60 miles or so. So why not combine the two? Why doesn’t someone like Zipcar set up charging stations where their cars are normally parked and set up some deal with an EV manufacturer?

Because the CEO of Zipcar says it will be a while before his company goes down that road.

“We don’t want to put new barriers up at a time when car sharing is really moving into the mainstream,” said Zipcar CEO and Chairman Scott Griffith. The “new barriers” that CEO Griffith seems to be referring to comprise electric vehicles that can’t meet Zipcar customers’ demands. Griffith said this in spite of Zipcar’s recent adoption of plug-in Prius to the San Francisco fleet and the addition of something called the “electric pod” in their London operation.

Griffith does say that Zipcar seems to be an ideal way to familiarize EVs to more people. Zipcar clients have already shown their enthusiasm for trying greener and original types of transportation. Also, the average trip in a Zipcar is under 25 miles and runs around four hours. Also tilting in the EV’s favor is that Zipcar’s fleet is already connected to a communications grid (that’s how billing and reservations are handled) and when the users are done, the car needs to be returned to specific a location, and that would be just the spot for charging stations.

Going against all those very good arguments for is the old EV bugaboo of charging time. If one of your main advertising points is that a Zipcar is “always available”, what happens if the car somebody wants is in the middle of a 4 hour charging cycle? Zipcar says that either a fast charger or battery swap system has to be in place before Zipcar could devote resources to EVs. There are also questions about drivers’ readiness to learn about the ins and outs of EVs as well as the company’s maintenance costs.

Griffith summed everything up by saying that Zipcar wants to make electric car acceptance easier, but will only get involved when all the pieces are in place.

Source: AutoBlogGreen

Photo from Flickr user jm3

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  • Ed Attanasio says:

    I see these Zipcars all over San Francisco..mostly parked. The problem is people don’t want to give up their vehicles, and until they do, there won’t be a whole lotta Zip in Zipcars.

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