BY ELINA KOLSTAD
I must admit I get a certain amount of schadenfreude as the owner of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) when I see gas prices going up and up and up. At the same time I am very concerned about those who were already living paycheck to paycheck before the gas price spike but are reliant on a gas-powered vehicle to get by. We have seen this coming. We’ve known for years that gas prices would keep going up. And yet our elected officials have effectively done nothing to prepare for this moment.
When my husband and I went from car-free to car owners in the fall of 2020 we bought a 2015 Nissan Leaf, a BEV. We were privileged to be able to buy this car when we did; for one thing we have an off-street parking spot with access to electrical charging. We also were able to go with a shorter-range electric car because we had spent five years without owning a car, so getting a car with a limited range still increased our mobility in comparison to walking and taking the bus places. In those moments when we needed a car that would travel farther, we were used to car sharing with services like Hourcar.
Now Hourcar is offering a new car-share option that might be of interest to those who are curious about electric cars but who aren’t in a position to buy one. Between the megadrought out west and record high gas prices, this summer seems like the perfect time for the launch of Hourcar’s new electric car-share program, Evie. Made up of a fleet of Chevy Bolts, this service functions differently from the current sharing model used by the gas-powered cars already offered by Hourcar. The gas-powered cars are located at specific parking spaces and must be returned to that parking spot when the rental is finished.
For those who used Car2Go (RIP), Evie works more like Car2Go did. The cars are parked throughout the “home area” and can be returned to any legal parking spot within that area. When the car gets below a certain charge level, users are asked to park it at one of the chargers installed throughout the home area and plug in.
We recently used this service to drive to Wisconsin and back. It worked wonderfully. We didn’t have access to a high-powered charger in Wisconsin, but the car had enough charge to get us there and back and we just plugged it into one of the Hourcar chargers when we returned it. The Evie service is slightly more expensive than the traditional gas-powered cars offered by Hourcar, so if you’re curious about getting a BEV but aren’t sure, this might be a fun way to test out driving around in one.
Electric cars are not a silver bullet that will solve our climate crisis, but they offer an important tool in reducing our carbon footprint. By combining electric cars with car sharing we have the opportunity to reduce our impact both in terms of operational emissions and in terms of the resource cost by reducing the number of cars being manufactured. My husband and I contemplate being able to go car-free again once our daughter is big enough to move from the bulky and difficult-to-install car seat she currently needs to a more portable booster seat. Hourcar’s new expansion makes this possibility more realistic, and I am grateful for it.