PhillyCarShare Adds New Electric Cars

In Philadelphia, you won’t necessarily need to own an electric vehicle (EV) to drive one. Not if you use PhillyCarShare, that is. The service says it is adding 16 EVs to its fleet. The announcement comes on the heels of the city winning a $140,000 grant from the state to purchase and install 20 charging stations, most of which will be dedicated to the car-share program’s EVs.

PhillyCarShare Executive Director Gerald Furgione said in a statement that the relatively high price of electric vehicles – the new Nissan Leaf comes in over $30,000 before tax breaks and other incentives, and the Chevy Volt over $40,000 – makes adding EVs to their fleet of more than 200 vehicles especially important.

Car share, electric vehicles, PhillyCarShare

image via PhillyCarShare

“People want to do the right thing for the environment,” Furgione said.  “Our goal is to make EVs and car sharing inexpensive and convenient. Our members are bikers and walkers who occasionally need a car. Our cars are close to where people live and work, which makes it easy to make the switch from ownership to sharing vehicles.” The fact that the average car-share trip is between 30 and 40 miles is another factor that makes EVs a good fit for the program, Fugione said.

The organization didn’t detail which model or models of EVs it will add to its fleet, or when the new vehicles will be available for use.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

1 Comment

  • Reply December 14, 2010

    Expert Answer

    Just How Green is That Electric Car, Anyway?

    EVs are still coal-powered vehicles…

    With the push to reduce the carbon emissions from transportation, sometimes the newest developments, the latest technology, gets the spotlight. By putting more electric vehicles on the road though, are we really getting “greener” vehicles? A report by an independent UK transportation group, Transport Watch, may have some surprising information for electric car aficionados.
    If your electric vehicle is charged with electricity from a coal-fired power plant, as it will most likely be in the Philadelphia tri-state area, then the CO2 emissions to fuel your EV are about double the amount emitted by a standard engine, due to the inefficiencies in electrical power generation and transmission.
    According to Transport Watch, only about 30% of the energy generated by the power plant actually reaches the vehicle because of losses in the transmission route. Of the energy delivered to the vehicle, 20% is then lost to the batteries and electric motor. This means that most EVs are only about 24% efficient.
    Contrast that with a modern on-board engine, which achieves an efficiency of 35-40% on the fuel burned by the vehicle. Granted, the internal combustion engine does emit CO2 at the tailpipe, while an EV does not. However, the CO2 emitted by the EV is not seen at the curb, leading to the assumption that electric cars decrease CO2 emissions overall.
    In addition, consider the heavy metals used in the EV’s batteries. Consider just how much oil will be used to extract, refine, manufacture, and distribute these materials to battery factories. Think also that these metals are at present a “scarce” resource primarily coming mined countries that are at present antagonistic to the United States.

    In conclusion, although the EV touts its low emissions at the tail pipe, The Volt and other Ev’s, at present create more CO2 per mile than comparable combustion engines when all factors of production are examined.

    Now let us examine the $15,000 cost per charging station and the fact the each car is double the price of a similar standard model……… I think you get the idea.

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