I-GO Car Sharing, a nonprofit car sharing organization in Chicago that I keep a close eye on (due to its leadership in the field), has now launched a $2.5-million electric vehicle (EV) project that will be the national leader in solar power for EVs (for now, at least). It’s adding 36 all-electric vehicles to its fleet, and it’s adding 18 solar-powered charging stations to power those cars. This will be the largest electric vehicle fleet in the Midwest, and, as indicated above, it will use more solar power to charge EVs than anywhere else in the country.
“Each solar charging station will form a canopy that covers four parking spaces and will be able to power two electric vehicles,” I-GO reports.
“Two spaces will be reserved for I-GO at each location, and the others will be available to the public. Each canopy will be topped with 44 solar panels, for a capacity of 10 kilowatts. In aggregate, the canopies will produce about 200,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, which will power as much as 600,000 miles driven per year. As a result, I-GO and its members could save as many as 17,000 gallons of gasoline each year.”
The locations of 11 of the solar-powered charging stations, for anyone in or visiting the Chicago region, include:
- several JEWEL-OSCO stores,
- the Illinois Institute of Technology,
- the Village of Oak Park,
- the City of Evanston, and
- Uncommon Ground restaurant.
7 more locations will be announced soon.
The canopies will all go up early in 2012, and will be installed by 350Green.
“We are committed to serving our customers in the greenest way possible, and providing solar-powered electric car sharing is a fun and innovative way for us to achieve that goal,” said JEWEL-OSCO President Brian Huff. “With I-GO and the accompanying charging stations, many of our customers who do not own cars will have a convenient way to take their groceries home, while also lowering their carbon footprint by using solar-powered electric vehicles.”
Never heard of I-GO? Want to learn more? No problem, here are some more details:
- I-GO was formed in 2002.
- It currently has 15,000 members.
- It’s got cars at over 200 locations in 35 neighborhoods & four Chicago suburbs.
- “Members pay for cars by the hour (around $8.50), and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance). A typical I-GO member spends about $2,520 per year on transportation, roughly $5,000 less than what the average American spends annually to own, operate, and maintain a car.”
- “I-GO offers a joint smart card with the CTA that allows a seamless transfer between public transit and an I-GO vehicle. The Chicago Card Plus I-GO card is the only one of its kind in the nation. Seventy-three percent of I-GO members either sell a car or postpone a decision to buy one after joining I-GO.”
- More details at igocars.org. (No, this isn’t a sponsored post and I have no relationship with I-GO,… I just love what it offers.)
The last time I owned a car was over 7 years ago. The first city I lived in without a car was Chapel Hill, NC. While I didn’t really feel like a needed a car that often there, there were times when one was really useful. I used Zipcar, another car sharing company, and have loved the concept ever since. Many places in the U.S. are built with the car in mind (and sometimes ONLY the car in mind), but it’s also completely easy to get around without a car MOST of the time in many places (and healthier, cheaper, and more fun, I might add). Car sharing helps to fill that very little part of the time when a car is still helpful. And if it’s offering solar-powered EVs, all the better!
I encourage you to check out I-GO if you’re in the Chicago area or to check out other car sharing options if you’re in other regions.
EV Solar Canopy image via I-GO