You’ll soon be able to hire one of 300 electric cars to help you get around London

More than 300 electric cars will launch across London this summer as car-sharing network Zipcar in a bid to help tackle the capital’s rising pollution problem. 

You'll soon be able to hire one of 300 electric cars to help you get around London

As part of the scheme, the first 100 electric Volkswagen e-Golfs will be available via the Zipcar Flex service from July and the number of these EVs in the city will increase to 325 by the end of the year. 

Zipcar members – of which there are said to be more than 200,000 in London alone – will be able to access the electric vehicles via the current Zipcar app and Zipcar said it hopes the cars’ introduction “will help break down current barriers to greater EV adoption and take electric driving from niche to mainstream in the capital.”

Last year, the number of people registering to buy electric and hybrid cars jumped by more than 27% compared to 2016. But a recent report found “dismissive and deceptive car dealerships” could be hindering this progress.  

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The study, published in Nature Energy, found car salespeople are reluctant to promote electric vehicles because industry and policy conditions favour petrol and diesel vehicles. The researchers found that sales personnel were dismissive of electric vehicles, misinformed customers as to vehicle specifications and encouraged the purchase of petrol and diesel vehicles instead.  The latter was seen in two-thirds of all the shopping experiences. In some cases, electric vehicles were omitted from sales pitches entirely. 

 Zipcar’s zero-emissions initiative comes at a key time for London, with congestion and pollution levels at an all-time high. Following a recent Greenpeace study, London transport was found to be among the most expensive, dangerous and least clean in Europe. The report looked at road safety, air pollution and transport costs across 13 EU cities. London came joint third worst – lower than Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris and Brussels. 

“With over 200,000 Zipcar members now in London, we are already seeing Londoners embracing car sharing rather than car owning in growing numbers,” said Jonathan Hampson, general Manager for Zipcar UK. “If we are to achieve healthier, cleaner streets, as set out in the Mayor of London’s latest Transport Strategy, this change away from car ownership and towards car access is essential.

“In encouraging this change we have always wanted to use the cleanest possible vehicles, which is why we’re incredibly proud and excited to team up with Volkswagen for this zero emissions initiative. It marks another step towards our vision for a greener London where car sharers outnumber car owners, making our amazing city an even better place to live for all.”

It may be a too little, too late though. A recent study, led by Dr Jos Lelieveld from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, found that, even if every country in the world adopted existing clean-air legislation, the number of air pollution related deaths would double to 6.6 million people per year worldwide by 2050.

Either way, it shows progress and more details of Zipcar’s scheme, including how it will work and what it will cost, will be available from July 2018 when the first e-Golfs are introduced.

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