The scale of the $2.5 million project will make it the largest electric vehicle car sharing fleet in the Midwest, and it will have more solar-powered charging capacity than any other program in the country.
“We’re committed to making it easy to live well in Chicago without having your own car,” said Sharon Feigon, CEO of I-GO. “We see ourselves as an extension of the public transportation system.”
She said the company has always operated with low-emissions and highly fuel-efficient vehicles because the goal of the program is not just to make it easier to get around, but also to take cars off the road.
The mission was always intrinsically green, Feigon said.
“The natural next step was to go all electric,” she said. “And electricity comes from a variety of sources so there is a reasonable case to be made that just because it’s electric doesn’t mean it’s better.”
So I-GO worked with the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago to build solar canopies in 18 different locations. The stations will have two bays reserved for I-GO cars and two that will be publicly available for anyone else in the city who wants to charge their plug-in electric vehicle.
“Part of this project is about integrating charging stations in the region,” Feigon said. “We’re trying to set up an infrastructure because we know not everyone is going to use a shared vehicle.”
Feigon said I-GO is ordering electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf, and that the pure EVs will make up about 10 percent of the non-profit’s total fleet. Another half of I-GO’s cars are electric hybrids.
The solar canopies will generate enough power to keep the new all-electric vehicles 100 percent charged, Feigon said, even in the winter.
“The sun actually shines quite a lot here in the winter,” she said.
The cars and charging stations are expected to be up and running by the Spring.
Image courtesy of I-GO Car Sharing.