What could someday be one of the world’s largest public electric vehicle sharing systems has begun to quietly unfold in the large eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. If all goes according to plan, residents in that metropolitan region could, within five years, have access to up to 100,000 self-serving EV rentals and related supporting infrastructure.
At the heart of this extremely ambitious project looks to be Kandi Technologies, who will likely be pumping out electric cars at a fast and furious rate to meet what’s been scoped out, both on its own and also in partnership with another auto manufacturer known as Geely. The agreement for the company’s involvement in the “Self-driving Electric Vehicle Rental for Public Transportation in Hangzhou Project” was only inked in August of 2012, and what’s followed after that in the last year plus timeline is pretty amazing.
Following the initial deal signing, the first of a multitude of “smart vertical parking and charging” facilities began construction this past June. It was to be one of over 30 such buildings to be erected by year’s end, helping to host between 5,000 and 10,000 Kandi electric vehicles “within one year from the initial launch of the smart vertical parking and charging facility.” In rapid efficiency, it was built and operational by late July, at which time trial operations commenced making use of the first 100 cars to be assigned to the program.
Afterwards, in August, it was noted by Kandi in a progress update there would be five of this EV rental structures up and running very shortly, with the goal of 30 to 40 still being seen as possible to be completed by the time 2013 was over. And, in a more recent development, 200 four-passenger electric cars were soon to be delivered into the vehicle sharing circuit.
Not surprisingly, this project is being seen as a possible national model. Kandi noted that since it proposed this new business idea of
pure EV sharing for public transportation, it has been very well received by many cities in China. In addition to Hangzhou, Shanghai City, Chengdu City, Jiangsu area, and Hainan area are also actively pursuing to adapt to this new mini-transportation model in their areas. It is very likely that, in coming year, these cities will begin building of pure EV smart parking and charging facilities. Kandi plans to expand into these new markets when the local supporting infrastructures are ready.
One key element to the possible success of this model is what’s described as “an automated mechanical parking system, equipped with automatic charging stations.” Also of note in the proposal was the small footprint of the previously mentioned rental facilities, which would reportedly would only need 0.5 square meters of space for each electric car, or, “in other words, 200 vehicles will be able to park in 100 square meters of space.”
There’s been some mention that the program has been well received by consumers thus far. Local governmental officials seem to believe in it very strongly, with one feeling “it will provide the citizens [a] more convenient commuting environment” and that it “will also make urban transportation different.”
In a related development, Kandi seems as well to be involved in a government subsidized EV leasing program in the same region with a target goal of 20,000 cars.