Go back about twenty years and the idea of sharing a car would have raised eyebrows. Your car was your car.
A few things have changed since then. As a society we're now used to mobility-on-demand and we're more aware of how our choices affect the environment.
An example of this in action is Mevo, a Wellington-based start-up. Mevo provides a hybrid car sharing service to customers via a mobile app. They've partnered with Z Energy to give Kiwi drivers better access to green technology and an alternative for getting around the capital.
Better access to green technology
Mevo operates a fleet of Audi A3 hybrid vehicles that use a combination of electric battery and combustion engine technology.
The exciting thing here is the average trip is either completed or mostly completed within the range of an electric battery. This means a nil or much lower rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The upshot is cleaner air and a way to reduce the impact of climate change.
New Zealand is particularly well placed to make use of electric car batteries as around 80% of our electricity is generated from renewable resources. We have hydropower, geothermal and wind right on our doorstep.
For Erik Zydervelt, Founding Director and CEO of Mevo, that's key, "I love that I can be driving around Wellington and I can look up at a wind turbine and know that is a big part of what's getting me around".
However, he points out that cost has previously been a barrier to wider use of this technology, "if you're going to buy a hybrid – new, you're going to struggle to get your foot in the door for under $50,000".
Car share services like Mevo are a great way to make hybrid vehicles financially accessible to more people.
Redefining car ownership
Cities like Vancouver with good public transport links, cycleways and established mobility-on-demand services (whether taxi or car share) have already started to see a decline in car ownership.
Erik puts this down to growing confidence that transport needs can be met without owning a vehicle, "we're in the middle of a big shift in societal behaviour".
Car sharing is also easier on the wallet. For most households, cars are the third biggest spend category after accommodation and food.
"The average cost of car ownership, when you take into consideration depreciation, is more than $10,000 a year for most Wellingtonians. Car sharing has the potential to halve that," says Erik.
Influencing city design
Mevo customers have a say in the future of transport in their city. They can vote for new charging locations (called 'pods').
The ability to have a two-way conversation with customers is crucial. As Erik reveals, "it's less about brands and companies just serving things up and more about a discussion of what people want and how we can work with them". Pods are located around central Wellington, including Z Vivian Street and down the road from Z Harbour City.
Furthermore, research shows that for companies like Mevo, every car shared takes between seven to eleven others off the road. This means quieter streets and quicker commutes. Spaces no longer needed for parking can then be repurposed for residential, commercial or community projects.
Erik mentions we're already starting to see this in practice overseas, "in Vancouver, developers are given the option to put in less car parking if they provide car share spaces. They're then able to turn more of their buildings into housing rather than car parks".
An example of this closer to home is Auckland's sustainability designed Daisy apartments. Their tenants have access to two eco-friendly shared cars as well as bicycle and scooter parks.
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