Shared electric vehicle (EV) programs are revolutionizing transportation by providing convenient, affordable, and eco-friendly mobility options. Despite initial uncertainties and concerns, users quickly embrace the ease, quietness, and comfort of EVs. Miocar, one such program, ensures its vehicles are fully charged and provides dedicated parking spaces with chargers. Newcomers are guided on trip planning and finding charging stations. Users who fall in love with EVs are connected to organizations that explain the tax credits and incentives available for purchasing an EV.
Furthermore, shared EV programs bring significant benefits to the community. Research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley found that for every car-share vehicle deployed, seven to 11 other vehicles were either taken off the road or never put there in the first place, reducing traffic congestion. However, some individuals in rural areas still require personal vehicles as a necessity.
An important aspect of these programs is their focus on equity. Low-income communities often lack not only access to supermarkets and pharmacies but also to charging infrastructure. Susan Buchan, the executive director of Good2Go, Boston’s EV car share, emphasizes that equitable charging infrastructure should be accompanied by affordable access to EVs to avoid green gentrification. The goal is to ensure everyone has equal access to resources.
Despite the benefits of shared EV programs, they face challenges. Funding remains a significant barrier, particularly for public-backed car-sharing initiatives. Public funding tends to be limited to the pilot phase, which lasts only a few years. Achieving financial sustainability is crucial, and organizations like the Shared-Use Mobility Center offer assistance to programs after initial funding ends.
Insuring the vehicles is another major hurdle, especially due to the high premiums imposed by some states. Massachusetts, for example, places car shares in the highest risk category, driving up insurance costs. Outreach and enrollment can also be challenging, but programs like Good2Go have successfully revamped their efforts and expanded their membership through community engagement.
As these shared EV programs continue to grow and become self-sustaining, they have the potential to transform the default means of mobility. The focus should shift from private car ownership to prioritizing access to multiple transportation options, including community-owned cars, buses, walking, biking, and scooters. Ultimately, an equitable future for clean mobility depends on creating cities that support and prioritize access over ownership.
University of California, Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center
Shared-Use Mobility Center