Could one of London's latest short term car rental schemes recharge our interest in electric cars? Londonist spent an afternoon with Drive Now in a BMW i3 to find out what it's really like to drive an electric car in the capital.
The car club company, a joint venture between BMW and Sixt, has come to an agreement with the boroughs of Islington, Hackney, Haringey and Waltham Forest, so their cars can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in this area. There are no parking charges (and you can use residents' bays); it's congestion charge exempt and with a one-off registration fee of £29, it's certainly pretty cost-effective. It operates on a Pay As You Go system, which works out to 39p per minute to drive or 19p per minute parked.
To book a car, load the app up on your iPhone or Android and it will locate the nearest car to you. Then just hit the 'reserve' button and off you go to pick up your car. In addition to the i3, Drive Now has a fleet of Minis and BMW 1 Series with petrol engines.
We found the i3 surprisingly nippy and pleasant to drive. The built-in control display screen is already set up with charging points mapped, so if your trip turns out to be slightly longer than you anticipated, you can stop off for a top-up. The i3 has a range of 80-100 miles, depending on how fast you drive and other things like using the air conditioning, but the display shows how many miles are left so planning ahead is easy. Charging options are DC-rapid (around 30 minutes), DC-fast (up to three hours) or you can plug it into a power source overnight.
One of the bonuses of using Drive Now's cars is that you don't even need to drop it off at a charging point; the company will check the power status of its cars and go out to charge them up if they're low on juice.
Drive Now's Joe Seal-Driver says he wants to see the scheme expand into other areas of London, and estimates that every one of their cars has the potential to take between six and 13 cars off the capital's roads.
Find out more about using Drive Now's electric cars.