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Buffalo CarShare now provides 100% electric vehicle option

Just two weeks ago, Buffalo CarShare (BCS), the non-profit organization where I work, added two (soon to be four) Ford Focus Electrics to its fleet through a grant from NYSERDA. Anyone (18+ and licensed for 2 years) can join the carshare program and reserve the cars by the hour. For this month only, it’s “Electric Month”, so people can join BCS for free ($20 savings) and try out our brand new 100% electric vehicles (EVs). We even have a humorous 30 second video in celebration of Electric Month.

We knew launching these cars would be tricky. Many folks are unfamiliar with how an EV works, so we made sure to test drive them extensively. However, we never imagined testing an EV would become such an adventure. It all happened last year, shortly after a 3-day carsharing conference in Boulder, CO. The BCS crew, including Director of Operations Mike Galligano, Board Chair Todd Salansky, and myself, decided to take in the sights by booking a car with the carsharing organization in Boulder called eGo. We wanted to go to Denver because the Presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney were being hosted that same night, and Todd and our friend Lauren from Capital CarShare needed to be dropped off at the Denver International Airport afterwards. We couldn’t have planned a better trip.

Mike suggested we book eGo’s full-EV, the Nissan Leaf. We knew we were obtaining 4 full-EVs the next year, so it was the perfect opportunity to test one out. Yet, as the Fleet Manager at the time, I protested using a full-electric car for our trip because where we were going was simply too far.

When using a full-EV, your range is somewhat limited. If the vehicle dashboard says you have 80 miles remaining, it’s more like 50-60. This probably seems illogical—imagine your gas tank gauge constantly lying to you—but it’s based on how the mileage calculator is programmed. The amount of miles remaining is an estimate based on your current usage. Whether you’re going uphill, downhill, fast, or slow the miles are going to fluctuate, and if you’re using air conditioning/heat or accelerating and braking quickly, it’s going to decrease your battery even more. Thus, if you’ve never driven a full-EV before, and there is only an 80 mile max range, I would suggest going 50 miles round trip. Unfortunately, we were going a little farther than that.
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