Westminster set for electric vehicle boon with new car sharing scheme
Westminster City Council has today (7 June) unveiled a new car sharing scheme that will offer 40 hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) to car club members at a cost-competitive price, with new charging infrastructure also added to boost the initiative.
With Westminster residents naming air pollutions as their biggest concern, the City Council has partnered with car sharing experts Zipcar to create a pool of 40 Volkswagen Golf GTE vehicles. Zipcar has also agreed to supply an extra 10 EVs across other areas of London including Tower Bridge and Old Oak.
Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for parking and sustainability Heather Acton said: “Electric vehicles are key to helping address pollution. Giving more people the chance to drive an electric car in London, and on a shared basis, is a big step towards creating a greener city.
“We are delighted that residents and visitors to Westminster will have the opportunity to try out these vehicles. Car sharing makes so much sense in central London, where a private car is not often needed.”
Westminster City Council has installed new charging infrastructure to supplement the increase in EVs, which are available to Zipcar members for a £7 hourly rate – the same price to lease a petrol Volkswagen Golf. It forms part of the Car Club Strategy for London, announced last May by Transport for London (TfL), which has set an ambitious target to ensure that half of all car-share fleet vehicles are EVs by 2025.
Westminster City Council is also bidding for funds to create a Low Emissions Neighborhood in Marylebone, while an ‘air force’ scheme to educate people about engine idling impacts has also been introduced.
Leading energy consultant Ecuity has previously stated that the sharing economy could allow hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to carve out a niche route to accelerate into the mainstream vehicle mix. It would mirror they type of initiatives that are currently being used to depollute the morning commute.
The car sharing scheme was announced just days after Transport & Environment (T&E) research revealed that the UK was responsible for approving the sale of almost a third of all vehicle models in Europe that exceed real life emission limits.
The UK’s VCA type approval authority approved the sale of nine of the emitting vehicles – dubbed the ‘Dirty30’ - including a Jaguar, a Range Rover, and three British-made Nissan, Toyota and Honda models.
T&E’s director of clean vehicles Greg Archer said: “Carmakers are choosing to play at home with a biased referee, guaranteeing that they win but their cars pollute and people die. What else than Dieselgate do you expect when Germany approved Mercedes, France Renault, the UK Jaguar and Italy Fiat? Either we break the cosy relationship between national authorities and their car brands with effective European supervision and independent testing or the cheating will continue.”
The ‘Dirty30’ allegations are a direct contrast to claims by the UK Government that it is "leading the push" for greater emissions testing in diesel cars. These claims have previously been branded as "misleading", after a Department for Transport (DfT) investigation revealed that some vehicles are still producing up to 12 times the EU maximum limit for road-tested emissions.