Most of us now accept that electric cars are the future of the automotive world and that they will eventually replace cars with internal combustion engines. However, their advancement from niche choice to mainstream success has been a long time coming: so what can kick start sales of these electrified vehicles?
The RAC Foundation (logo, pictured) and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association attempted to address this question in a paper entitled Car Rental 2.0, which looks at the alternatives to car ownership.
In the paper, the researchers examine the role that central government and local authorities must play to allow the car rental market and car clubs to advance.
For example, the paper states that car clubs and car rentals are a vital testing ground for the wider adoption of plug-in electric vehicles and other green cars. It believes that one of the major barriers for electric car uptake is the cost: and this could be overcome by car clubs and car rental companies offering electric vehicles to help avoid that initial cost of ownership.
It is believed that offering the vehicles on a “pay as you use” basis would allow the market to expand by increasing its visibility. In addition, they provide people who are unsure about electric car ownership with the chance to test drive the technology.
Nevertheless, the report also notes that there are additional issues holding back the wider use of electric vehicles within car clubs and car rental companies. These include high purchase and operational costs; the practicalities of recharging which conflicts with the way car rental cars are typically used; and the limited range which makes them unsuitable for many long journeys.
One possible solution is the Car Rental 2.0 pay-as-you-go option which would feature integrated ticketing or smartphone apps and in-car communications, allowing for a mobility mix that allows travellers to choose the cheapest and cleanest ways of completing their journeys.
However, in order for this to be a success, the report suggests that local authorities must be proactive in encouraging alternative forms of car access and that political leadership will be needed to integrate them with other forms of transport.
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