Carsharing of electric cars and electric municipal public transport as a new face of transport

The increasing problem of traffic jams in agglomerations cannot be completely tackled. It would require an endless expansion of road infrastructure, what is, obviously, impossible. The increasing number of cars requires solutions, which would diminish the scale of the problem. The change of communication habits of the citizens or implementation of intelligent traffic management systems are well-tried solutions commonly used in majority of the cities. However, there is still a problem of ecology of the whole transport and its impact on society’s health. Therefore, replacing combustion engines with electric ones seems to be the most appropriate solution. Everyone knows that the car, which is stuck in a traffic approximately for half an hour, will be a smaller burden if it did not combust the fuel. Hybrid installations or zero-emission electric cars are also more economical in terms of fuel use and exploitation.

For many years, electric cars have not been given much attention due to their small range, high price and small size. The more popular hybrids were in fact combustion cars with additional electric motor. In this type of vehicles, the main task of the electric part was to recover energy from breaking and its reuse when starting. In hybrids, while driving at a small speed, the combustion engine stops working and the car is powered by the electric motor.

Unquestionable advantage of electric cars is their simple construction. Electric motors have very few movable parts, hence, the probability of their damage decreases. From an economical point of view, it is cheap to use – such car can recover energy from breaking, thus, prolong its use, for example, in the city. What is more, it is much more cost-efficient to use energy from power plants than to produce oil, transport it to refinery and transform into fuel. Electricity may be also produced from biomass as well as from renewable resources (e.g. wind energy), unlike combustion engine, which requires a specific type of fuel. Therefore, Polish economy would benefit from limited import of the oil and at the same time it would become less subjected to lack or higher prices of any type of fossil fuels.

Electric cars have also equally good performance when compared to combustion cars, what can be proved by Tesla Roadster car. An electric car does not need to have a shifting gear or a clutch. What is more, due to quiet engine operation, it enables “noiseless” traveling as well as convenient listening to the music. Unfortunately, electric cars are much more expensive due to, among others, small volume production and high prices of the battery, what causes also higher costs of their repair. From ecological point of view, excluding combustion process is a very beneficial and environmentally friendly change. There is also a problem of batteries which, although safe in use, become a problem after exploitation period. As for now, we do not know cheap and safe methods of recycling or utilizing them.

 

Electric public transport

Motor drive has become a very tempting vision for municipal public transport. Nonetheless, one should remember that it is a new idea. The first electric vehicle was introduced already at the end of XIX century. On streets, one can see electric buses more and more often. In November of the previous year, the fleet of MZA [Eng. Municipal Bus Company] was restocked with vehicles with photovoltaic panels. Electricity plays an increasingly important role in cities’ development plans concerning issues of green transport. Currently, moves towards e-mobility development are made, among others, by such cities as: Gdańsk, Gdynia, Cracow, Toruń, Zielona Góra, Warsaw and Wrocław. Another challenge faced by Poland is the introduction of state-centralized projects encouraging both local governments and private users to buy electric vehicles.

So far, Warsaw has purchased 10 electric buses. Zielona Góra plans to acquire as many as 80 and in the future become one of the first cities where public transport will be completely emission-free. Gdynia invests in trolley buses: within the last few years, it modernized 5 tractions and built another 4. Among others, thanks to such solutions, the energy consumption in Gdynia decreased by 23% in 2009-2014. Cracow and Katowice are developing support system for electric car users. Rzeszów and Lublin want to install proper infrastructure of charging stations, which is an important step toward popularization of eco-friendly transport in Polish cities. Each city has its own challenges and needs related to them. Some have to tackle poor quality of the air or low emission, others high level of congestion and noise.

Apart from public transport, the technology of electric motors can also be used for so called car sharing. This scheme is applied in more than 600 cities all over the world. This offer is especially suitable for clients who sporadically drive cars or would sometimes like to have access to different types of cars. The majority of carsharing experts claim that having a car that one does not use every day may be more expensive that renting it. To make the purchase of car pay off, annual mileage should exceed 10 000 kilometers. Obviously, cost-effectiveness of every-day journey is influenced by distance that we have to cover and whether we get stuck in a traffic or not. The owned car can be either a gas-guzzling and frequently-breaking down, generating costs means of transport or an economic and durable one. With so many changes, it is difficult to unambiguously decide if carsharing is cost-effective for commuting to work every day.

The fleet owners often highlight the fact that such way of road transport would significantly influence decreasing the traffic especially in rush hours. Unfortunately, statistics of Autolib’ indicate that carsharing of electric cars does not reduce the number of vehicles on the roads but makes public transport passengers use ecological easily accessible cars instead of buses and trams, what results in increasingly gridlocked streets. These are experienced based on the attempts to implement carsharing to the current road traffic. However, assuming that after some time the number of private cars would decrease, the result could be quite the opposite. The key of carsharing system is to use the car constantly for the longest possible period of time during the day. It would increase the number of parking spots and improve efficiency of the used vehicles. Currently, the private cars are used only for a short period of time during the day, for the rest of the day, they occupy the parking spots. Effective use of a vehicle only when we need it also reduces the costs that are usually born by the owners, namely, fixing, insurance, registration costs and car purchase.

 

Carsharing in Europe

Europe gives us a good example. In European agglomerations such as Nice or Lyons, e-mobility has been present for years and is still developing. However, it is very often refinances by the country. The French receive grants for buying electric cars and do not pay for car parks. What is more, renting electric car, which finds wide audience, is flourishing in several cities. It results in decreasing CO2 emission (8g/1km), energy consumption and noise level in the city. In total, on French roads, there are 130 more electric cars than in Poland. Autolib’, which operates in Paris, since December 2011, has released 250 Bluecar model cars. This electric 4-seat vehicle was designed by Pininfarina studio and its range comes to 250 km. The car does not have to be returned to the place where it was rented. One can use GPS to book the destination place.

In Germany, carsharing is used by nearly 1 million users. It is offered by more than 150 companies, including renowned car manufacturers such as BMW, Daimler and Citroen. It is also worth to mention the Car2Go network, which since 2008 has been running the company in Ulm in Germany. There are electric ForTwo Smarts in its fleet, which we will be able to see on Polish streets soon. The network operates also in Italy and Austria, in total, providing services to 25 cities of Europe and North America. However, in Guimaraes (Portugal), the town hall disclosed over a dozen electric cars already in 2013.

Prices of European carsharing range from EUR 15 to EUR 35 for an hour of driving. The users can also buy a weekly, monthly and annual subscription. European rates are a crucial problem and it is, among others, the scale of charges that should take the first place while considering introducing carsharing in Poland. Unreasonable price would discourage even the greatest supporters of ecology and proactive transport what could immediately result in new electric cars fleets becoming an example of unsuccessful debut of innovative technology.

Electric vehicles in Polish cities

Introducing electric car renting would be feasible also in Poland. Such solution would make it possible to unload individual transport and possibly also the public one; the use of electric technology would surly have a positive influence on the environment. Nonetheless, to implement such an innovative system, modernization of infrastructure would be necessary. It is crucial to equip Polish cities in bigger number of charging points similar to those in Germany.

As far as the development is concerned, we are facing a great challenge. An input in sustainable mobility development in Poland can be also provided by enterprises and offices that would decide to buy car fleet for their employees. They have a chance to choose ecological cars with electric motor.

 

Polish Green Taxi

The most interesting solution on Polish market is the one of sharing Green Taxi electric cars fleet (www.taxi.greenpl.eu), which not only allows entrepreneurs to get access to necessary vehicles but also provides charging infrastructure as well as parking space. It is a well-conceived, pioneering innovation which achieved success due to its complex vision. The service aims mainly at taxi corporations which in cooperation with Green Taxi can boast of not only ecological attitude to transport but also wide range of digital maps.

The idea of carsharing will be implemented in Warsaw soon. Two years ago, Łukasz Puchalski – town hall attorney - became very fond of it. The project was accepted by town authorities and was supposed to be launched in 2015. In autumn, the Warsaw council incorporated it in the statute of ZDM (Municipal Roads Authority), however, the service of starting rental company has not been put out to tender yet. Privileges that electric car owners have also fuel controversy among councilors – permits to drive on bus lane as well as free-of-charge use of metered parking zone. It has been agreed that it would violate current rules and affect other companies, for example, those which rent cars at the airport. The technology has been already fully-prepared, the biggest problem is the change of people’s habits.

Perhaps, Warsaw will not be the first place in Poland to introduce carsharing. Tourism significantly contributes to development of this idea, what can be proved by Mediterranean cities where one way of sightseeing is to rent and travel by an electric car. Additionally, in such cars, we can find GPS with touristic routes, which significantly helps holiday-makers to find interesting, worth-seeing places. Carsharing, however, is not easy to implement in small, sparsely populated cities. Maybe that is why Gdynia or Gdańsk should be the first to test the complicated carsharing and electric motor conglomerate.

 

Not only carsharing of new vehicles but also conversion of used combustion cars in Poland

However, there is still a question whether the local authorities will be encouraged enough to do it, since they cannot count on neither grants to co-finance the purchase of electric vehicles nor concessions as far as tax charge is concerned.

Another way to implement foreign plan of introducing ecological car rental companies to Polish market is converting cars from combustion to electric ones. For entrepreneurs, it would be the cheapest, most payable and most beneficial form of introducing eco-friendly vehicles. On Polish market, Green Taxi (www.taxi.greenpl.eu) in cooperation with Green Covent (http://carsev.pl) deals with conversion. Their offer targets enterprises which owe fleets as well as public administration bodies. Lower costs that one would have to bear, would definitely result in more affordable prices of carsharing and would not constitute a big risk, as it is in the case of expensive, brand-new electric cars.

It is worth mentioning that the Green Taxi Company is affiliated in Green Cars Cluster (http://carspl.eu), which associates companies that provide components for charging infrastructure for electric cars. That is why the initiative of implementing carsharing of electric cars along with conversion of used combustion cars into electric ones as well as development of charging infrastructure will be innovative on a European scale.

Green Convert Group (red. www.carsev.pl) is currently working on conversion of traditional bicycle into electric one. What does it look like in the case of a bicycle? To cut the long story short, special engine and battery has to be installed. The choice of drive is also crucial. One can select central drive of engine integrated with chain set and pedals, drive attached to the rear wheel which is applied mainly in mountain bikes and variant with engine installed in the front wheel, which due to its low price is the most popular. On the basis of the idea of electric bicycle that is being created, project for local governments and cities is going to be developed. It is indeed a great tool for an indirect reduction of combustion vehicles from the traffic. Maybe more comfortable and easier use of the bicycle will encourage drivers to use single-track vehicles more often in short-distance travels.

The vision of a city full of quiet, safe for the environment cars is a beautiful image. More important, however, the results, namely the improvement of the air quality and noise reduction as well as decreasing congestion and number of car accidents on the roads. It is a fact that the number of manufactured electric cars is still rising. Certainly, in the near future, carsharing of electric cars in connection with conversion of combustion cars and expanding charging infrastructure will be as successful as the systems of Veturilo bicycles. Poland as a country with cars distinctly different from each other in terms of the year of their production uses the system of car conversion. It significantly contributes to reducing the costs of obtaining electric vehicle, consequently, enables Polish drivers to use new, green technologies.

Source: Green Economy

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