Car-sharing service Zipcar knows that plug-in hybrids are coming down the pipeline fast–witness Toyota’s announcement this week that the plug-in Prius is due for release in 2012–and it’s wasting no time in positioning itself for their arrival. The company launched its first all-electric car-share pod in central London this week, with a converted PHEV Prius and an all-electric Citroën C1 available for use by Zipcar members.
Zipcar’s all-electric pod comes after the service tested out its first PHEV Prius in San Francisco this past February. As in San Francisco, the London plug-ins will be available for all Zipcar customers. Granted, it won’t be easy to get your hands on one of only two Zipcar PHEVs in the entire city, but the cars are a welcome addition to the car-sharing service’s fleet of nearly 1,000 hybrids.
Zipcar hasn’t announced concrete plans to expand its PHEV program, but that’s probably just because PHEVs aren’t yet widely available and a charging infrastructure is just beginning to emerge. The company hints that “EVs are ideally suited for early, large-scale use in Zipcar’s car sharing platform” since most Zipcar trips are under four hours and less than 25 miles. As a result, Zipcar members (and car-sharing members in general) may be more inclined to use the vehicles with limited battery ranges and charging station options.
Streetcar, another car-sharing service, beat Zipcar to the PHEV punch by launching the U.K’s first electric car hire scheme in June with its own converted PHEV Prius.