The car rental industry is changing every day. The first big development in this industry as of late was the switch to hourly rentals. In America and some places in Europe, hourly rentals just work better. There have always been car rental companies that offered this kind of service, but only recently has it really caught on. From there, it went to car sharing programs. This runs on the same idea of hourly rentals, but instead of the company buying the cars, people supply the cars. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Now, with everyone looking to go green, rental centres that focus only on electric cars are becoming more popular. In fact, the very first electric car rental centre has just opened up in Shanghai this past week. This is a huge push by Shanghai toward green mobility.
This centre was opened thanks to the government’s push for green businesses. Right now the government is offering hefty subsidies to any company that focuses on going green. This includes a subsidy for people who buy electric cars. With this kind of huge discount, it was only a matter of time before a company tried to capitalize on it by opening up an electric car rental centre.
This one-of-a-kind car rental centre is located in the Jiading District. This happens to be the same area were the Electric Vehicle International Demonstration Zone is located. The site was launched by eHi Auto Service Co., which is also located in Shanghai. This group hopes to deploy at least 200 electric cars in the city this year alone.
According to eHi Auto Service Co., consumers are allowed to rent 20 Roewe E50 cars. This is the same electric car that is made by SAIC Motor. The price of renting this car is just 149 yuan, which is about $24, a day. This is a lot cheaper than renting petrol-powered cars that are the same size. So people not only feel good about renting electric cars but also save money. Consumers do not have to worry about putting petrol in the car, because it runs on electricity.
The government hopes that this new rental centre will get more people interested in electric cars. According to a survey that was conducted by Shanghai International Automobile City Co., only about 9 percent of people in the city have driven an electric car. The government believes that this is the main reason for the poor sales of these vehicles. The goal is to get people to drive these cars so they can see how nice they really are.
Of course it is not just the fact that people have not tried them as to why sales have been low. Other concerns stated by drivers include limited charging stations around the city and the very high cost of battery maintenance. Some feel that the high cost of maintaining the battery actually eats away all of the money you save from not having to buy fuel.
The senior vice president of eHi Auto Services Co., Cai Lihong, said that his company will provide free recharging services at the car rental centre. On top of this, his company plans to open two other recharging centres within the next year in Jiading. More have already been planned for other districts as well.