25 June 2009
Electric car sharing program kicks off
With manufacturer Electrovaya flipping the switch, the nation’s first all-electric car-sharing program debuted this week in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Electrovaya Inc. is offering its Maya 300 for rent at the Maryland Science Center. The car can go up to 120 miles on one charge of its lithium-ion battery system. The vehicle gets its charge from a regular 110-volt outlet.
Electrovaya’s Maya 300
“This is an example of what science centers do best,” said Van Reiner, president and chief executive of the science center.
Ten cars will be available through the new car-sharing web site Altcar.org. A two-hour trip costs $29, with discounts for science center members.
The manufacturer calls the fleet a “game changer” in urban transportation alternatives. Electrovaya Chief Executive Sankar Das Gupta said that is because the vehicle has the look and feel of a four-door, gas-powered sedan and should appeal to consumers who want to reduce oil dependence.
“Creative ventures like this are essential in finding new energy solutions,” Das Gupta said.
The car makes little noise, provides dashboard gauges for battery life and temperature, and offers other conveniences of gas-powered cars.
Maryland Energy Administration research found Baltimoreans typically drive about 30 miles to work, well within the Maya’s range, and Das Gupta said the driver could plug the car in at the driver’s destination to boost its power.
Driving 50 miles will cost about $1 in energy, according to Electrovaya’s estimates. The cost could be lower through some utilities that give discounts for charging during off-peak hours.
The car-sharing service ZipCar Inc. also operates in the Baltimore market, but Das Gupta said Mississauga, Ontario-based Electrovaya is looking to feature its technology, not challenge ZipCar for market share.
Electrovaya’s battery technology is possible through ExxonMobil Corp.’s battery separator film. The film, with lithium-ion batteries, allows for the units to operate at higher temperatures with a reduced risk of meltdown.
The battery system will shut down the flow of electricity if the engine is overheating.
The company will make the cars available to the public in 2011, starting at $25,000 for a 60-mile range vehicle and $35,000 for the 120-mile range vehicle.
For related information, go to www.isa.org/environment.