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Sacramento gets charged up in green deal

Announcement comes in the wake of California’s approved $738m budget designed to speed up the electrification of transportation in the state

The projects will increase Sacramento's access to zero-emission vehicles
The projects will increase Sacramento's access to zero-emission vehicles

Volkswagen electric vehicle subsidiary Electrify America and the city of Sacramento have partnered to launch two car-sharing services and a range of other initiatives as part of a $44m ‘green city’ investment in the Californian capital.


Other projects will enable increased access to zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV) in the Sacramento region, see the introduction of new ZEV bus and shuttle routes and state-of-the-art electric vehicle charging systems throughout the region and help prepare the city for future electric vehicle adoption.


One new service called Gig is a car share scheme based on a “free float” principle for first-mile-last-mile connection.


Users can pick up and drop off a vehicle at any legal public parking spot, including metered locations, within a 13 square mile “home zone.”


The user either pays for rental time or distance travelled, whichever is less expensive. With the Gig app, users can locate the nearest car to reserve it for up to 30 minutes in advance or to initiate a spur of the moment trip.


The service, launched in partnership with AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah, will initially begin with 260 vehicles in the first quarter of 2019.


These cars will be easy to recognise with a roof-mounted bike rack, giving users the option of combining two different modes of transportation, bike and car, for daily commutes or weekend adventures.


According to Electrify America, more than 70 per cent of the census tracts in Gig’s proposed car sharing home zone are low-income or disadvantaged communities.


“Gig is excited to introduce an easy, affordable, and clean transportation service to the residents of Sacramento,” said Jason Haight, president of GigCar Share. “Together with the city of Sacramento and Electrify America, we are launching the largest fully electric car share operation in North America.”


A second car share scheme, to be introduced in collaboration with Envoy Technologies, is a community-based EV car-share service based at apartment buildings as an amenity.

Vehicles can be reserved, picked up and returned to the same location. The Envoy fleet will feature 142 vehicles spread in pairs across 71 locations. Each car will have a dedicated Level 2 EV charger.


With 75 per cent of the fleet expected to serve low-income and disadvantaged communities, Envoy aims to provide equitable transportation for drivers running personal errands, as well those looking to participate in the gig economy and generate income that is 30 per cent higher than the minimum wage.


These cars will be available for rental by residents as a paid service at competitive rates. Initial properties will begin offering service by the end of summer 2018 with more locations coming on board every month.


Additionally, Electrify America is investing between $11m and $14m in a ZEV bus service and an on-demand micro-shuttle service. To support powering the fleets, Electrify America will also install charging stations with ultra-fast chargers to power each service.


An enhanced bus service will run between UC Davis and Sacramento with 12 new electric buses that will run from the main campus to the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento. The bus service is expected to add more than 400,000 bus rides in the first year of operation. The enhanced route will start in 12- to 18 months once the electric bus manufacturer begins deliveries.


An on-demand electric shuttle service operated by Sacramento Regional Transit will transition its three-shuttle fleet to ZEV buses following funding from Electrify America.


This service provides additional mobility for residents and visitors to this area, which has been without a bus line since 2008.


Electrify America is also spending between $14m and $16m on charging infrastructure which will see it install more than 10 ultra-fast EV charging stations in the Sacramento region which will be available to the public.


This investment includes chargers for the bus and shuttle services, plus the level 2 chargers for the car share programme.


“Our partnership with Electrify America is a key piece of the city of Sacramento’s effort to become a national centre for testing and development of alternative and autonomous vehicle technologies,” said Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento mayor. “And just as importantly, the new shuttles and car services connect this new technology to our neighborhoods by increasing mobility options for residents, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas.”


“Promoting better mobility for everyone, especially those in disadvantaged communities, is a core goal for Sacramento metropolitan air district,” added Dr Alberto Ayala, executive director and air pollution control officer, Sacramento.


“When we can accomplish that with innovative, zero-emission transit solutions, it’s a win-win-win for public health, air quality and the capital region’s transition to clean, low-carbon transportation.”


Electrify America is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, it is investing $2bn over 10 years in zero emission vehicle infrastructure, education and access.


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