San Francisco's City CarShare service, which is adding plug-in vehicles to its fleet as a way to boost demand, must contend with the occasional glitch involving drivers unfamiliar with the technology. For example, one driver recently ran out of juice while driving a Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle from San Francisco to Sacramento, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The problem? He didn't realize the car was electric.
As Mike Harrigan, the head of City CarShare's plug-in vehicle operations, told the Chronicle, "There's two kinds of members. There are the ones who are totally into EVs and understand what to do, and there are people who are totally oblivious, don't even realize it's an electric car and drive off to Sacramento."
City CarShare, a nonprofit that serves about 15,000 subscribers, currently has seven plug-ins sprinkled among its fleet of 380 vehicles and is looking to have half its fleet be powered by either hybrid, plug-in or biofuel powertrains by 2015. Currently, about a quarter are Toyota Prius hybrids. Each EV costs City CarShare about $30 a month to charge. Additionally, the organization is planning to have 30 electric-vehicle charging stations installed around the Bay Area by year-end.
Even with some "oblivious" drivers, San Francisco is a pretty ideal place for such a service because of the combination of an environmentally conscious population and the city's relatively small area – San Francisco proper is just 49 square miles. In fact, City CarShare, which received the first-ever fleet delivery of a Mitsubishi i EV in December, in February said it would start an electric-bike sharing program that will be sponsored by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and would include 45 e-bikes by the end of the year.
As for absent-minded customers still looking to go green, City CarShare does have a solution for that: the organization's fleet does include Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in vehicles and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids. Get in, go nuts.