Dozens of electric vehicle rentals coming to Richmond: ‘There will be more cars and more options for everybody’
on April 13, 2023
As the price of gas increased in recent years, the 70-mile round trip from Richmond that Oscar Alcocer makes every Saturday to pick up his child in Walnut Creek became unaffordable in his 1995 Jeep Wrangler.
Alcocer cut his costs last year by switching to an electric vehicle when Charge Up Contra Costa, an electric car-share program, launched in Civic Center Plaza. The weekly visits were going smoothly, until recently, said Alcocer, a 41-year-old engineer at an aerospace company.
“One of the things I dislike about the program is that it is becoming more and more popular. I used to be able to go on there and make a reservation whenever I needed it,” he said. “Now it’s hard to find reservations, and you have to do it well in advance.”
By summer, Alcocer will have another option to rent an electric car, as the Richmond Community Foundation launches its Car Share Program in underserved communities, with 12 cars and two vans.
“There will be more cars and more options for everybody,” said Alvin Lewis, senior director of Richmond Community Foundation, which is using $1 million in state money to launch the program. “It’s a matter of making the newest and the best technology available to everyone, not just those who are wealthy that can afford to buy an electric vehicle.”
The three-year grant comes from the California Air Resources Board, through the nonprofit Clean Mobility Options. Richmond Community Foundation has contracted with transit provider Miocar to provide and maintain cars in the new program. Miocar also runs Charge Up Contra Costa’s existing program, which currently only has two electric cars for rent in Richmond, because three others are out of service.
Richmond’s first EV-share program started with $400,000 and a partnership between the city’s Transportation Department and Charge Up Contra Costa in September 2022. Charge Up expects to have 10 Miocars available to rent in Richmond later this year.
In total, Miocar will have 22 cars and two vans in Richmond, according to Gloria Huerta, chief operating officer.
Another program, Martin Luther King Park, was set to launch with two cars last year, through funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Bay Area Air Quality Management District. But, Lewis said, vandals destroyed the charging stations before its launching.
Lewis said rentals for cars in all the programs cost $4 per hour or $35 per day, which includes maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance.
“The program is to encourage electric vehicle driving, to encourage the opportunity for those who can’t afford a car, access to a car. And there’s an opportunity for these vehicles to be stationed at multi-family properties like condominiums and apartment complexes, instead of having everyone own their own cars,” said Denée Evans, Richmond transportation manager.
Last year, the California Air Resources Board approved the advanced clean cars II rules, which say that by 2035, 100% of new cars and light trucks sold in California will be zero-emission vehicles.
Evans said that the Transportation Department and other partners are extending charging ports for EVs to resolve owners’ concerns and promote using EVs. She said there are 36 public charging ports, and the city owns 24 of them.
Meanwhile, Lewis wants to make sure the neighborhood is aware of the vehicles. Richmond Community Foundation publicizes the cars on its multimedia channels and social media, and through organizations and community groups.
Miocar, a transit provider established in 2019, has services in seven communities, including Richmond. To rent a Miocar, customers download an application and after signing up and submitting their driving license, their application will be approved within three business days.
Huerta said that about 70 people have applied to use Miocar in Richmond, and about 40 to 45 drivers use the cars monthly.
“We talked to all our members before activating their accounts because we think it’s important that some of our members have never driven an electric vehicle. We want to make sure that they feel comfortable,” Huerta said.
For Alcocer, renting an EV is not just about saving money but also helping the planet.
“It’s saving me money because if I were to take my Jeep, it would cost me 15 mpg. It would cost me roughly, at $5 a gallon now, maybe anywhere between 20 and $30 to go make that round trip, and here I’m spending $4,” he said. “And it’s electric, it’s clean energy. So it’s a win-win.”
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