What began as an innovative way to keep travel expenses to a minimum has grown to become a model for sustainability and environmental progress for many metro areas across the country and around the world.
Car sharing programs – which provide rental cars for individuals and groups for short periods of time – have seen tremendous growth over the past decade. While studies have shown that car-sharing programs conserve fuel, reduce demand for parking space and relieve traffic congestion (among other benefits), these programs are making more great environmental strides, as well.
Interestingly, the first car-sharing program in the United States didn’t start until 1998. But since then, car share programs have grown to more than 12,500 cars and nearly 650,000 members nationwide.
Recently, several car-sharing programs have upped the environmental ante by incorporating electric vehicles to their fleets. In fact, one car-sharing program has initiated an innovative pilot with a number of unique partners – including city government and Xcel Energy – designed to increase energy conservation and sustainability in the region.
HOURCAR, a non-profit car-share program based in St. Paul, Minn., recently added two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to its fleet. As part of this initiative, the City of St. Paul also is installing 20 public electric vehicle charging stations along its burgeoning Energy Innovation Corridor. The goal is to provide infrastructure and yield information to better serve the fast-growing EV market.
With a history of innovation, HOURCAR is an excellent fit for the pilot. The organization was the first car-sharing program in the world to incorporate plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in its fleet. In addition, their fleet of vehicles is among the greenest (if not THE greenest) in the world.
While the addition of the new electric vehicles isn’t groundbreaking, it is exciting to see a number of partners come together to embrace new and different environmental initiatives.
Article appearing courtesy xcelenergy.com