Zipcar has established itself as the world's leading car sharing network, and last week, it took a significant step in launching its first large-scale electric vehicle pilot program in Chicago. As of last Thursday, five Chevy Volts will be available to members to rent by the hour. By the end of this year, the company hopes to have added an additional 20 EVs to its Chicago fleet.
The new Volts will be parked in locations around the city, including on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, the Loop, South Loop, River North, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Lincoln Park, and Albany Park.
"We are looking forward to providing our Chicago Zipsters with increased opportunities to reduce their environmental impact and drive some of the most technologically-advanced vehicles on the road as we roll out this EV program over the coming months," said Charles Stephens, general manager of Zipcar Chicago. "Freedom has always been a hallmark of the Zipcar experience, and now members can have the best of both worlds – the low carbon experience of an electric car with the back-up security of a gas engine – as we introduce the new Volts into our fleet this week."
The Chevy Volt can travel on only electricity for about 35 miles. Since Zipcar members frequently travel less than that distance, many of these trips may be entirely gas-free.
To help develop the infrastructure necessary for these EVs, Zipcar is partnering with 350Green, which is installing charging stations at the Zipcar EV locations. Other partners, including the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Tishman Speyer, LAZ Parking, and Cityfront Place Apartments, will help provide parking locations as well as charging stations in commercial and residential buildings, private parking lots, and along the CTA rail system.
The initiative will also help enable the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Throughout 2012 Chicago plans to install hundreds of public EV charging stations.