Chicagoans now can benefit from the environmental friendliness of electric vehicles without buying one. This is because Zipcar, a leading car sharing network, has launched its first “large-scale electric vehicle (EV) pilot program” in the city.
Since yesterday (March 22nd), five Chevrolet Volts are available to members by the hour, with up to 20 additional EVs to be added into the Chicago fleet during the course of 2012.
The new Zipcar EVs will be placed in pods located throughout the city, including locations on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, as well as in the Loop, South Loop, River North, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Lincoln Park, and Albany Park. Zipcar said it is working with a number of partners on this program, including 350Green, which is installing the EV charging stations where the Zipcar EVs will be located.
Other partners include the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Tishman Speyer, LAZ Parking and Cityfront Place Apartments, who are providing locations for the Zipcar EVs and charging stations in commercial and residential buildings, private parking lots and along the CTA rail system.
The first EVs to join the Zipcar Chicago fleet are five Chevrolet Volts, which are now available at Cityfront Place Apartments 400 N. McClurg Ct. and 260 E. Chestnut St. in Streeterville, 210 N. Wells St. in the Loop, and in University Village at the University of Illinois-Chicago at 915 S. Paulina St. and 701 W. Maxwell St. These vehicles are available for reservation by Zipcar members starting from just $10 per hour.
The Chevrolet Volt is a full-performance and full-speed electric vehicle with extended range, which can travel gas-free up to an EPA-estimated 35 miles, after which it shifts a gas generator which produces electricity to keep it going an additional 375 miles on a full tank of gas.
Zipcar says many trips taken by its member are shorter than 35 miles, therefore they are likely to be powered solely by electricity.
Zipcar is also working with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition to launch the EV program in support of the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Over the course of 2012, the City of Chicago is installing hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations for public use to help expand the EV infrastructure throughout the city.
If you live in Chicago and became curious about the service, Zipcar will be holding an event on Saturday, March 31 where customers can check out the new Volt vehicles. Zipcar members will be able to take them for a test spin. The event will take place from 10am to 1pm at Cityfront Place Apartments, located at 400 N. McClurg Ct. in Chicago.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.