The next generation of electric cars is now available to the car-less–at least, to Zipcar members in Boston, San Francisco, and Portland.
The car-sharing service announced this week that eight Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids are now available to those three cities as part of a pilot program that will explore how the technology can work in large-scale car-sharing programs.
“Zipcar is an ideal test bed for early
consumer acceptance of EVs,” said Scott Griffith,
Chairman and CEO of Zipcar, in a statement. “This project will allow companies to
receive direct feedback from thousands of consumers in three cities and
help evaluate how EVs fit into a large-scale car sharing model.”
Toyota’s plug-in Prius, set to be released to showrooms in 2012, can travel on pure electric power up to 62 MPH for
approximately 13 miles before shifting into
conventional Prius hybrid mode, where it averages 50 MPG. Zipcar is planning on charging its fleet using both conventional 110-volt outlets (a three-hour charge time) and 220-volt chargers (a 90-minute charge time). Customers will be allowed to take the plug-ins out for $7 per hour.
Zipcar launched its first all-electric car-share pod in central London in 2009 with a converted plug-in hybrid Prius and an all-electric Citroën C1. That same year, the car-sharing company tested out a converted plug-in Prius in San Francisco.
Zipcar and other car-sharing programs may ultimately be the biggest early adopters of EV technology. And that makes sense–many people who borrow cars do so for short trips, so there is less of the range anxiety associated with all-electric vehicles. Customers may also be more enthusiastic about experimental technology since they don’t actually have to purchase anything.
In any case, Zipcar’s pilot program is an encouraging sign that plug-ins may soon clog city streets in the near future.