PhillyCarShare to add 16 electric cars to its fleet

PhillyCarShare will add 16 fully electric vehicles to its 250-car fleet by this summer. The cars will use most of the 20 new charging stations the city plans to install using a $140,000 Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant from the state.

Gerald Furgione, the Executive Director of PhillyCarShare, says this is a good way to introduce the city to more mainstream use of electric cars. The average trip in a car-share vehicle is between 30 and 40 miles, well within the range of one battery charge. And Furgione says the car-share service allows people to get used to driving the electric vehicles without having to commit to buying one.

“This will be a way for people to actually be able to try them in a car sharing environment, to drive them at a very low cost, not have to put out $41,000 to experience an electric vehicle,” Furgione says.

Sarah Wu, with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, says the city chose to dedicate most of its planned charging stations to car-share vehicles because they offer a low-risk way for people to try out new technologies. She says they also have the potential to cut emissions more than private drivers owning their own electric cars.

“If you put these electric vehicles into car-share fleets, they’ll get driven more often,” Wu says, “so they’ll displace more vehicle miles travels that would have been driven in a regular fueled vehicle than if they were in private ownership.”

Wu says the city will study how the electric cars are being used, and will then make decisions about whether to add more car charging stations for private users in the future. With an additional two electric cars also being added to the fleets of Zipcar, another car-share service, only two stations will be for public use.

Furgione says two PhillyCarShare cars will be placed at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple and Drexel Universities, and the remaining ten will be scattered throughout downtown. This is the first step in a three-year plan to make half the company’s fleet electric, Furgione says.  He hopes to have this round of cars in place for use by Fourth of July 2011.

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