Drive Oregon’s October Event: Opportunities & Challenges in Electric Vehicle Car Sharing

(October 25) – Drive Oregon’s October monthly event, held last week, explored electric vehicles in car sharing services. If the energetic Q & A session was any indication, it was a great success! We hosted two speakers, Dave Brook, Senior Carsharing Consultant at team red U.S. and Alan Bates, BMW ReachNow’s Portland Market Manager.

Dave Brook has an extensive background in car sharing— in fact, he founded the first car sharing service in North America in 1997! Dave provided an in-depth look into the evolution of car sharing, which started as a round-trip service where users paid by the hour. Today, a variety of models exist. In some services, the vehicles are “free floating” and do not need to be returned to their pick-up location, some continue to use the round-trip model and other services offer both options. Some models charge users by the minute, while others require reservations in a larger block of time. In general, the majority of car sharing services use conventional gasoline vehicles in their fleets, but and increasing number are adding electric vehicles or going all electric!

Dave gave a convincing argument that electric vehicles are a natural fit for car sharing because the average trip distance is short and the responsibility of charging falls on the operator. As an added bonus, incorporating electric vehicles into car sharing also provides users a risk-free introduction to driving electric. In many ways it’s like an extended test drive! Dave outlined several car sharing companies in Europe and Asia that use electric vehicles in part or all of their fleets. However, the integration of electric vehicles is not without challenges. In particular, Dave noted, the higher cost of the vehicle, the low density of charging stations and potential lost revenue during charge time put up barriers car sharing services must creatively overcome. Dave concluded that we can measure the successful integration of electric vehicles into car sharing fleets by the presence of subsidies and government partnerships, two elements necessary for building electric vehicle support.

View Dave’s presentation below:


Alan Bates introduced ReachNow, Portland’s newest car sharing service. Bookings are made with the ReachNow app and users can drop the car off anywhere within the service area; in Portland this area is 35 square miles and growing. Alan described how the April launch of its Seattle fleet, which included 70 of BMW’s electric i3, was a success. The City of Seattle is supportive of clean transportation initiatives and in general, Alan explained, people are excited about electric vehicles. Some of the initial challenges, Alan noted, were the limited charging station availability, user range anxiety and the fleet operating costs. There are 6 SAE Combo DC Fast Chargers within the Portland city limits and 6 more are planned, which will allow greater charging flexibility. Alan announced that the i3 will be introduced to the Portland fleet by the end of 2016 and hopes that eventually most of the vehicles in the fleet will be electric.

View Alan’s presentation here:


We hope you can join us for our next event, Election Recap: What’s Next for Electric Vehicle Policy, on Thursday, December 1,  at the Jaguar Land Rover Open Software Technology Center. For more registration and more information, click here.

A big thank you to ReachNow for sponsoring the event. We’re excited for the introduction of the i3 into your Portland fleet!