Yoogo Share, part of a locally owned fleet management and vehicle leasing company, recently launched New Zealand's first 100 per cent electric car sharing service - in fact, it's the largest scheme of its type in the southern hemisphere.
Officially launched in Christchurch by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on February 15, 2018, the Yoogo Share electric car sharing service is an initiative the Christchurch City Council hopes will drive transformational change in terms of both carbon emissions and attitudes about future vehicle ownership.
The service provides businesses and the public with access to a pool of 100 electric vehicles (EVs), including BMW i3s and Hyundai Ioniqs, on a shared basis from 10 hubs and 100 chargers around the city.
Yoogo Share general manager Kirsten Corson says: "Whilst we are not the total mobility solution for a person or business we deliver a cost effective and sustainable option."
The traditional internal combustion engine has been around for over a century. Fuelling, maintaining and operating them is easy due to a well-established, extensive network of refuelling and vehicle servicing operators. People understand and trust them. Meanwhile 100 per cent EVs, while appealing for multiple reasons, are something of an unknown quantity.
But that wasn't about to scare off Yoogo Share's vision of the future. Corson says: "We learned that a lot of businesses wanted EV fleets, but they came at an initial higher capital cost. Not only the cars, but the charging infrastructure. And because it's relatively new and fast-moving technology, many businesses and the general public have found it challenging."
These very difficulties actually strengthen the business case for car sharing, where the costs are spread across multiple users, reducing risk and translating capital cost to operational expense. "We were fortunate enough to get a public private partnership in place with the Christchurch City Council, and to receive co-funding from the Government's Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by EECA. The Council, along with twelve foundation customers and over 3000 drivers, created an immediate commercial benefit in dollars and cents that meant those customers could go green without the hassle." says Corson.
And the rental costs are pretty impressive, starting at just under $15 for an hour, which is less than the cost of an Uber. An 'overnighter' costs as little as $36.
So how does Yoogo Share achieve such low prices? Part of it, Corson explains, comes down to an EV's low maintenance, with only around 20 moving parts in an electric engine, compared with nearly 2000 in an internal combustion engine. The other part is that the company looks to absolutely maximise the time the vehicles are in use. "We've got fantastic technology fuelling the back end and within our App which makes it simple, convenient and efficient to access a car," says Corson.
What's the reaction been like so far? "Anyone who gets into one of our EVs for the first time tends to have a 'Eureka' moment," says Corson. "Experiencing the power, smoothness and silence of an EV for yourself is really the only way to fully appreciate their capabilities. When you drive EVs for a while its hard to go back to a combustion engine."
And Yoogo Share is giving the people of Christchurch the opportunity to do just that. "The easiest way to get started is to simply download our App and register or register via our website: www.yoogoshare.co.nz."
Of course, Christchurch is just the start of what the company plans to be a nationwide service. "Obviously we'll start in the major population centres, but there is demand in the smaller towns too."
"So, yes, we're hoping to give people across the country the opportunity and chance to drive a pure EV and get hooked on all the economic and environmental benefits they offer. And possibly challenge the current concept of traditional car ownership at the same time." There are Yoogo Share cars at Christchurch Airport if you are heading that way.