Clean com­mute

Car-shar­ing is in­tro­duc­ing cana­di­ans to elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ECOWATCH - By Guil­laume lavallee

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

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