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Soon people will be able to rent electric cars by the hour, out of the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. It will cost nine dollars per hour, or $72.00 for a whole day. Users who pay a $25.00 per month fee will receive a discount. Another option will be to pay as you go, receiving a monthly bill. This program is called Altcar. People can sign up at the Science Center or online.
Currently, the science center only has one vehicle – a Maya 300 made by Electrovaya – available for test drive only. The center is awaiting delivery of ten additional Maya 300’s in the next few months, and twenty more by 2011, with plans to continue expanding their fleet with other electric vehicle models into the future.
This project was funded by Exxon Mobil and the Maryland Energy Administration. It was a joint effort of the Science Center, Electrovaya, Autoflex (a 15-year-old, Baltimore-based fleet management company) and the Baltimore Electric Vehicle Initiative (BEVI). BEVI is a partner of the non-profit organization, International Center for Sustainable Development. They work to reduce carbon emissions by implementing smart grid infrastructure for the city of Baltimore, and Altcar is the first step.
The ultimate goal is to have as many electric cars as possible, available at different charging stations in Baltimore. Cars will be unlocked and paid for with a digital key, and the energy required will come from sustainable sources. Eventually the program will be able to expand to other cities in Maryland, and the infrastructure behind the recharging stations could be used to supply electric power for various other needs. BEVI also recently started a “webstorm” – a public forum for sharing ideas related to sustainable energy. It can be found on the group’s website.
The Maya 300 is a low speed vehicle. It is internally regulated to a top speed of 30 mph, so it’s limited mostly to roads within the city. A full charge takes 7 to 8 hours, and goes for 120 miles. Rental prices include the energy used to drive the motor, and insurance. At a cost of about 30 cents per mile for standard users, renting one of these vehicles will cost more than the fuel needed to operate most comparable internal combustion engines. It would be less expensive than buying a car though, which may be a value for people who live and work in the city.