In 2011 the all electric car sharing company Car2go was launched in a blaze of glory; with a real determination to incorporate the car sharing industry with the all singing, all dancing, new electric car technology. There were really high hopes for the all electric angle, which made the company environmentally friendly as well as saving money for customers against the cost of traditional gasoline/petrol powered vehicles. So what has gone wrong?
The San Diego authorities, in tandem with the Department of Energy, promised that there would be 1000 electric car charging stations by 2012. Well, we’re now well into 2016 and there are only 400 charging stations in the San Diego region, with only 126 in the vicinity of the area Car2go covers. As a consequence, the company has announced plans to swap its all electric fleet for gasoline vehicles.
The company has also been forced to reduce its charging structure in the short term and it looks as though it is back to the drawing board for this environmentally friendly, groundbreaking group. Who is to blame?
Authorities fail to deliver
When you bear in mind the time, money, and effort put into the business by Car2go’s owners and employees, it is difficult not to have any sympathy. Electric car companies have on the whole tried to work with their local authorities to introduce these environmentally friendly vehicles and grow the electric car charging infrastructure. It is unfortunate to say the least that the authorities have failed to deliver on their side of the bargain and this could have serious repercussions for the industry in the short to medium term.
Aside from the financial cost the failure to provide the charging stations has dented the confidence which investors and businesses had in local authorities across America; let’s not forget that the Obama government has invested billions of dollars into the electric car industry with more to follow. Has there been some misunderstanding between the San Diego authorities and the Department of Energy? Is there a lack of funding? Nobody knows at this moment in time.
Does this show the main weakness of EVs?
Many people have pointed to the recharging infrastructure as the potential "weak link" in the evolution of the electric vehicle. In a typical, "what came first? the chicken or the egg scenario," it seems that investment in the infrastructure required has not been sufficient. We can only hope that this particular episode with Car2go, which has certainly caught the headlines, will prompt local authorities up and down the U.S. to be more focused in their development of the EV charging infrastructure.
It is not all doom and gloom however because we look at other countries which have been far more successful. In Norway, they are targeting 100% electric vehicle use on the roads in less than a decade! So yes, this is a short-term disappointment for the electric vehicle industry but hopefully it will spur local authorities and governments to up their game. They have sold the concept of electric vehicles to the general public and now they need to step up to the mark with regards to the charging infrastructure.