Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 344

Drive Now Flexible London Carsharing Expand Fleet with 30 EVs

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 20 Mag 2015

london-centralLondon, UK Today saw the launch of 30 BMW i3’s into London’s DriveNow carsharing service, the BMW / Sixt joint venture offering one-way flexible carsharing in the North London boroughs of Islington, Hackney, Haringey and Waltham Forest. Following their launch in December 2014, this takes their growing fleet total to 270 vehicles being used across the boroughs, offering residents and businesses a viable alternative to use of private cars with it’s on demand, pay per use model.
Today’s announcement means that over 11 percent of the fleet are full electric vehicles, as part of the exclusively BMW / Mini fleet of vehicles, making it London’s largest fleet of shared electric vehicles in a car club. Using the i3 will be a great move for the London carsharing customer, not least because of the emission free driving, but also the chance to test the new technology. The i3 is widely regarded as one of the most innovative EV’s on the market today, built with urban mobility at the heart of its development, and could become a truly important London carsharing vehicle as DriveNow grows. There are already over 10,000 members of the service in London alone, who will be given the opportunity to use the vehicles at competitive prices, in turn promoting the benefits of EVs to an increasing member base and local residents. There are several reasons that DriveNow have chosen to use the i3 in the carsharing fleet. As well as to improve the customer offer, with the new technology and highly acclaimed vehicles, which are also exempt from congestion charge (allowing more use cases), it is an opportunity to increase the marketing of the service, and gain operational insight into the use of EVs in their carsharing fleet. The marketing potential is not just related to the zero emissions from the vehicles and leveraging the new BMW model, but also to promote the benefits and potential application of electric vehicles to their customers of tomorrow. As more DriveNow customers understand how to use an EV in London, the more likely they will be to go and purchase one when they need their own private vehicle, is the theory, which may be more likely to be a BMW vehicle. It also educates Londoners on how to use the vehicles, a necessary intervention to drive behaviour change in cities to overcome range anxiety in particular, as well as operational concerns such as how to use the charging infrastructure. Given free driving credit will be offered to customers in return for charging the vehicles at the end of a rental, there is a good incentive to do so. Finally but importantly, it provides the opportunity to DriveNow to fully understand the operational pros and cons of using EVs in their flexible carsharing fleet. It is well documented that EVs currently cost more than the average combustion engine vehicle. Indeed, the list price of an entry level i3 vehicle at the time of writing is £30,980, compared to ~£20,000 for a BMW 1 series or £16,000 for a Mini Cooper (the other vehicles that make up the majority of the DriveNow fleet). Whilst this makes the business case more challenging, the main concern in London at present exists around the charging infrastructure. Of course, taking 4-6 hours to recharge wipes out a considerable proportion potential utilisation, but more importantly complications with the maintenance and contractual obligations in the transfer from TfL to private operator IER has led to as much as 35 percent of the charging stations unavailable due to faults. Given the fact that IER also operate carsharing firms in France, each London carsharing operator including DriveNow will be seeking clarifications from the local authorities as to the access and payment model to ensure a fair playing field is achieved. What is clear though from this announcement and the continuation of EV carsharing schemes around the globe, is that EV carsharing offers carsharing providers and particularly OEMs a great opportunity to leverage zero emission vehicles in high frequency urban use, and gives the city policy makers the potential to begin a shift from combustion engine to EV fleets by educating a wide pool of customers (carsharing members) with a small fleet of vehicles. Only a few months after launch, DriveNow have over 37 members to each of their vehicles, and exceed 100 members to vehicles in their developed market of Germany, thus using the opportunity to showcase their new EV to as many potential future EV customers as possible. With over 13 percent of global carsharing vehicles being electric already, Frost & Sullivan expect this to exceed 30 percent of carsharing fleets by 2020 given an increased entry from OEMs and support from city authorities to deliver EVs in carsharing fleets, such as parking/charging infrastructure incentives for example.

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