Car sharers hybrid hope
Maker sees green on tax, writes NEIL McDONALD
GREEN cars should be free of import duty to help spread the environmental message. ‘‘That would be a great first step,’’ according to Honda Australia senior director Lindsay Smalley.
‘‘In some states, like the ACT, they also have favourable rates on things like stamp duty.’’
Smalley is the latest car company chief to suggest more could be done to encourage buyers into new technology, at state and federal level.
Car parking incentives for hybrids, seen as unnecessary by some consumers, is being considered by some municipal councils and shopping centres.
Smalley joined leading fashion designer Akira Isogawa last week to promote World Environment Day and hand over two Honda Civic hybrid sedans to car-share company Flexicar in Melbourne’s CBD.
Smalley believes there is
still some reluctance by consumers to adopt hybrid cars but having Flexicar ‘‘will send a positive message’’.
‘‘People will be able to try out the car and if they like the driving experience it will help spread the word,’’ he says.
Flexicar founder and chief executive Monique Conheady expects the hybrid Hondas to be popular among the company’s 2000 members in Melbourne and Sydney.
‘‘We’ve got the cars for a 12-month trial and then definitely we’ll put more on,’’ she says.
‘‘Our customers are asking for hybrids.’’
The Honda hybrid will cost the same to rent as Flexicar’s Jazz models, from between $9 and $13 an hour or $69 to $89 a day, including petrol and insurance.
‘‘It was important to send a message to consumers that they did not need to pay more for fuel-saving hybrids,’’ Conheady says.
One car will be available at Flagstaff Gardens and the other in Surry Hills, Sydney.
Conheady says the car share scheme is growing rapidly in Europe and she sees huge potential here.
‘‘We’re seeing a lot of referrals but I believe there is much more opportunity to market the concept,’’ she says.
The company operates 70 cars, mostly Honda Jazzes, in key inner city areas in Melbourne and Sydney.
Cars can be booked for an hour or up to three days.
Flexicar started four years ago with three cars and a handful of members. The scheme focuses on high-density inner urban areas with good public transport close to dropoff and pick-up points.
‘‘We’re seeing a lot of single people become members, particularly those in the inner city areas, who don’t want to spend money on owning a car,’’ she says.
‘‘Also, many families use us as the ‘second’ car company.
‘‘They may already have a family car but occasionally need a second one for short trips.’’
In the US and Europe car share schemes are becoming more widespread with 900 cities participating.
Zipcar has more than 80,000 members in the UK and US and its business is growing daily.