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Central London Shares the Plug-in Pod


Londoners are about to welcome an all-electric vehicle pod, according to a recent announcement by Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing service provider.  As part of a pilot program, the pod will be used to test the profitability and durability of plug-in cars as they are incorporated within their fleet.  The statement comes soon after the company partnered with Westminster City Council, the government municipality that is backing the car club with £200,000.   Members who sign up for the program will also enjoy one hour of free parking and exemptions from various service fees.

The new electric vehicles — a plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius and Citroën c1 — will be placed behind Westminster City Hall, on Spencer Street, where its dedicated EV recharging bay is located.   From there, Zipcar members are being enticed to experience their first-ever  ‘zero-carbon journey’.  Zipcar, London’s initial car-sharing service provider, began offering hybrid vehicles in 2003.  Within almost six years, the company was able to add one thousand green cars to its fleet, and they now continue to expand their network of charging stations and vehicle offerings.


In San Francisco, circa February of this year, Zipcar launched a test which, more than likely, had far-reaching effects within the company’s management circle:   Converted Toyota Prius plug-ins were distributed to pods across the entire Bay Area.    As reported by Zipcar, over 85% of customers told the company that they would be interested in driving plug-ins after taking part in the program.  Also mentioned was that the vehicles were driven on battery-power for 75% of the miles travelled. Based on the relative success of the California test-run and customers responses, management surely was encouraged to bring the concept to the crowded streets of London.

Further Alternatives

Also of note is AltCar, another car-sharing project, which offered the Maya 300 vehicle about 2 weeks ago. So far AltCar is a small-scale project, founded by the Maryland Science Center.  ExxonMobil holds a stake in the battery makers responsible for the Maya 300, and unsurprisingly, they have provided AltCar with $500,000 in funding. The Maya 300 would take around six to eight hours to charge, possesses a range of 60 to 120 miles and a not-so-impressive top speed of 25 miles per hour.

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