Car-sharing is introducing canadians to electric vehicles.
In a Montreal parking lot, JeanFrancois 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 and doesn’t use gasoline,” says 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 gasoline-free cars pointing the way forward for the increasingly popular car-share industry, which unlike a traditional car rental, allows customers 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 US$2 (RM6) per hour, which includes the cost of fuel, plus a subscription fee.
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 carsharing 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.
Most of the electric cars can go about 140km before needing to be recharged – although the batteries become partially replenished when