Shortly after car rental company eHi Auto Services Co. launched the first electric car rental service in Shanghai, Beijing recently initiated a similar service.
E-car rental in both Beijing and Shanghai started off through experiment in carefully chosen designated areas first. Service was first provided at Tsinghua Science Park in Beijing where residents are mostly educated and younger people who are more aware of new technology and environmental issues. The e-car rental service may interest them because it is novel, convenient and cost efficient.
In Shanghai, eHi kicked off green car rental in the city’s international EV test drive and demonstration zone. Many residents there are related to automobile business and are more likely to try out new automobile drive technology.
In both Beijing and Shanghai e-car rental projects have been undertaken one step at a time in order to avoid haste and waste of resources such as charging infrastructure building. Over the past few years many pilot cities have built excessive charging stations and poles without careful study and planning.
Beijing is now planning to duplicate the e-car rental service in another 11 science parks that have similar population demography within the year. All the charging poles in these parks will be for public service. Gradually, the different experiment areas will be connected and enlarged to form a charging network, thus paving the way for future city-wide EV rental services for the residents.
For big cities, e-car rental may become a viable business model for urban vehicle electrification.