Wroclaw, Poland, where I live some of the time, launched an electric carsharing system last year. It is populated by Nissan LEAFs, Nissan e-NV200s, and electric scooters. I recently tested the program out for the first time and thought I’d report back some of my reflections.
Before getting to my actual experience using a car, though, perhaps the most notable point is that I see these vehicles all over the place. Basically any time I go outside and walk for a few minutes in one direction, I find one. We’ve lately been seeing a Nissan LEAF right in front of our apartment building fairly often, as well as one or two of the Blinkee electric scooters.
Since the whole family loves electric vehicles, one day last week we decided to create some videos of the Vozilla EVs parked in front of our building.
Fun stuff. A cleaner neighborhood is good for kids. 🙂
Regarding renting a Vozilla car (or scooter), it’s basically as easy and convenient as you’d expect — almost. You open the app and locate a nearby car/scooter. You can then start renting the vehicles immediately or reserve it for a specific time.
Once you are ready to get the car, you go to it and use the app again to unlock it. However, first …
… you may have noticed green stickers on the cars in these photos. These say, “This is not my fault. 🙁 ” — in Polish, of course. Basically, previous damage is marked with a sticker so that new renters don’t worry about being charged for them. Even better (but sort of time consuming to check if there’s a lot of pre-existing damage), each dent or scratch is listed front and center on the app before the rental. If you see a new dent/scratch, you just add it before you start your rental.
The challenge/annoyance with this is that it can take a long time and isn’t particularly fun checking 10 or so points of damage and making sure none have been missed. The car I rented had something like 10 points of damage and one or two were not yet listed. Going through this process was a bit of a turnoff when expecting a quick and easy car rental solution.
Though, in actuality, it just took a couple of minutes and I’d surely be quicker next time.
The biggest benefit of the cars, other than being electric of course, is that they are often in front of our home or just a couple of minutes away. It’s generally very easy to find one, and much quicker and cheaper than going to the airport for a regular rental car.
However, we have almost no need for a car — or, I should say, no use for a car — where we live. Practically everything we need and do on a daily or weekly basis is right there on our street, or at furthest, in the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, we have a couple of little girls who need carseats, and it’s not convenient renting a car — from anywhere — and then loading up the carseats, driving somewhere, and getting the carseats out again when done. There are few cases in which going through that process is more convenient than the alternative, but not many.
So, I only used a Vozilla car once, and that’s when I was on my own. It was really just to test out the program — taking a tram/streetcar home from the doctor’s clinic would have been at least as convenient, and also cheaper. (All that socialized health care and transportation sure makes it hard to waste money.)
Electric carsharing should be in every city by now, in my opinion. There are many benefits and almost no downsides. It sure seems to be working well in Wrocław.