Intelligent Transport Systems Finland, a non-profit association, calculates that the average car is driven 42 kilometres a day and is unused for as much as 95 percent of the time. At this utilisation rate it makes no sense to own a car.
Electric vehicles are ideal for driving shorter distances and can be recharged between rides. If rented by the hour, the user does not pay while the car is idle, only when it is in use.
The idea of a rental and sharing service for ecological electric vehicles came from Juha Suojanen, founder of EkoRent. He has long been interested in EVs and renewable energy.
EkoRent’s main customers are urban residents who usually travel by public transport but occasionally need a car. The other important target group consists of companies and condominiums, which can make considerable savings from car sharing.
What makes EkoRent’s services superior?
“Electric vehicles are fairly new in Finland. By renting an inexpensive EkoRent car everyone can try out an environmentally friendly EV that emits no carbon dioxide. Our service is entirely new and all our development work has been aimed at making it extremely easy to use. Judging from customer feedback we have succeeded in this.”
“To register as a user of the rental service, the customer needs a driving licence and a debit or credit card. Our application shows where available cars are and what is the estimated charge level in kilometres available. Car can then be booked and unlocked using either a smart phone or a text message. We have chosen service points that can easily be reached by public transport and which are surrounded by housing and businesses. Our service has been operating for less than a year but is already closing in 1000 members. That is a pretty significant achievement considering that the service concept is new and the low number of EVs in Finland. ”
“At present we are concentrating on developing vehicle sharing even further by trying to influence the way and number of parking spaces demanded per building by regulators. This can have a direct and huge impact on urban planning. One underground parking place in Helsinki typically costs more than 50 000 euros to build. In a real example from Helsinki, regulator decided to test a different approach and decided that if four percent of a condominium’s parking places are used by shared vehicles, the total number of parking places could be reduced by 20 percent. In practise this approach will save over a million euros in construction costs in that single site, so we are talking about a significant amount of money, reduced costs, and improved service level for the residents of that building.”
“Property developers save in construction costs because they do not need to commission so many parking places; hopefully they will pass this saving on to home-buyers. Families also have the possibility of giving up their second car and perhaps even their first one. Plus there is a benefit to the environment because electric cars are non-polluting. It’s a win-win-win situation.”
What forms of international cooperation do you seek?
“We want to develop operations abroad together with suitable partners, and have already initiated some discussions. EkoRent is unique, and we are looking for international partners with the courage and vision to embrace an entirely new concept.”
Juha Suojanen, chief executive, tel. +358 40 707 1091, juha.suojanen(at)ekorent.fi
EkoRent is participating in the Smart City Expo World Congress being held on 17-19 November 2015 in Barcelona. Drop in at the Finnish pavilion and see what we can contribute to the smart cities of the world.