TRANSPORT – electric car sharing, how good is it?

28 March 2017

SBN’s Georgina Hart plugs into the new Mevo electric car sharing service in Wellington. Is the experience electrifying?

As a member-based not for profit, SBN doesn’t have the largest travel budget in the world. And we are always mindful of the carbon footprint we could rack up covering our nationwide network. In Auckland we have a loaned hybrid car courtesy of Toyota. We have an e-bike courtesy of Electric Bikes Auckland. And we have a normal pedal bike for when we are feeling energetic. But we are always looking for sustainable transport options further afield.

Recently Georgina Hart, project lead for Million Metres, was headed to Wellington. Laurie Foon, SBN’s regional co-ordinator there put her in touch with Mevo.

Launched last year, Mevo offers its members on-demand access to Audi A3 e-tron electric cars. The idea is you can request a car up to 30 minutes before you need it. You can use it for up to three days and then put it back where you found it.

Georgina had three days in Wellington, with meetings back and forth across the region. Mevo generously provided SBN with a temporary membership.

“The core of the service is a phone app that turns your smartphone into a key for the car,” Georgina explains. “You just rock up at one of the cars, your phone unlocks the car and you drive away. If you are doing some distance, you can pop back into a Mevo parking station to charge the car.”

But what does jumping in to one of these electric vehicles feel like to a fossil fuel driver?

“I have to admit I’m not a big fan of cars. As an avowed eco-warrior I’m what you might call anti car. But Mevo’s electric Audi was something else. I couldn’t believe I was driving a car that didn’t make any carbon emissions, as long as I kept it charged up. Basically, I felt like I was driving a spaceship and that was pretty damned cool.”

Mevo is still in start-up mode, so you won’t see fleets of them around the city yet. At the moment the firm has three cars downtown near the waterfront in Wellington. But Mevo hopes to have another six sites around the central CBD up and running in the next few months. Of course, if they find success others will follow.

With the Audi e-trons there is a petrol back-up motor to overcome any range issues. This was handy when Georgina found a charging station in Lower Hutt out of action and ran out of charge.

So, do you want access to the latest car technology without having to worry about storage, maintenance, insurance bills, or the price of petrol? If the numbers work this could be a winner. At the moment the market is small, but is sure to grow.