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China's electric carshare vending machines

Posting in Transportation
China's air pollution problem is bad. So bad that it regularly grinds business in the country's most populated urban areas to a halt. But one of the major culprits -- the car -- could also become one of the solutions. 

Chinese cities are imposing limits on car sales to reduce congestion and looking to congestion charges to discourage driving in central urban areas. But in Hangzhou, the solution is more cars, more electric cars that is, using an innovative system that combines ideas from popular carshare and bikesharing programs (Hangzhou has an especially popular bikeshare system) and robotic car garages. 

In a joint venture between Kandi Technologies Group and Geely Automotive, the companies plan to place 750 robotic car garage towers that dispense 100,000 electric cars, like a vending machine, throughout the city. Like carshares, users can rent a car by the hour ($3.25 in this case). And, like bikeshares, there will be stations throughout the city to drop off the car after a one-way trip. The city has rolled out its first two garages and 18 more are currently under construction.

With China struggling to get people into electric cars, maybe this could be an answer.

Filmmaker Aaron Rockett was in Hangzhou to get a first-hand look at this innovative urban transportation solution. Have a look:

 
 

— By on December 30, 2013, 1:21 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure