GreenGo: An e-carsharing service launched in Budapest
Would you fancy using a car full of extras? A car that you can use anytime you want to? After which you don’t have to pay taxes, for petrol or parking? Then the GreenGo e-carsharing service was designed for you! According to forbes.hu, Bálint Michaletzky came up with the idea to better the transportation in Budapest.
“In the beginning I found it hard to explain what this was going to be, but then I managed to reduce it to two words: Bubi (Budapest bicycle) with cars” says the inventor, who used to manage an energetics project until he decided to have a go at the electric car business.
If you start an enterprise in the field of public automobilism, you probably cut off more than you can chew, and this even doubles when it comes to electric cars. GreenGo, launched last Tuesday, wants to contribute to this business field by serviceable and available cars all over the capital city.
The culture of public automobilism hasn’t been developed in Hungary yet, we are behind the West European mentality by a few years. A personal car is still a type of status symbol so the conversion is not easy: it’s not clear whether or not there will be market interest in GreenGo.
Bálint Michaletzky is aware of the conditions. “We travelled a lot to West Europe, to test and learn about the different systems, because it’s important to know that these kind of systems in other big cities still use petrol-fuelled cars in most of the cases.”
They had to work on the initial idea: three years ago they wanted a Renault Twizy fleet. “Then it turned out that we couldn’t fit on normal doors, it didn’t have a heating system so it couldn’t have been used all year long. Fixing these problems would’ve been way too complicated for us.” So they finally chose Volkswagen’s transformed electric car, the e-Up.
Next, they had to look for an investor and luckily Ce Rent Inc., occupied with car renting, saw potential in the business: besides the current 45 car fleet the company also implemented further investments and got majority ownership in exchange. They expect to be paid back in 12 years’ time.
Attila Milanovich, the managing director of Ce Rent, told Forbes.hu that they plan on tripling the number of currently available service locations and providing 300-500 cars to at least 10 thousand users. “We aim to stabilise our exploitage rates at 15-20% and supply the needs of 3-10 families with one car.”
The test period hasn’t revealed any major faults yet. “We hope that we learned our lessons in three years” says Bálint. “However, we hoped that the charging network would develop a bit faster, or, that we could plant our own charging stations, but, unfortunately, this didn’t happen, and this is why our starting fleet is not too big.” The planting of a charging station costs 2-3 million forints and they would need at least 100-150 stations for the ideal functioning. The e-Up goes dead in two days, but the application informs its users about the charging info of each car.
“The biggest obstacle is like the hen-egg problem: electric cars won’t spread until there’s no established charging network, but they won’t develop the charging network until there are not enough electric cars. This is what we want to overcome now!”
How to use GreenGo?
You can download the GreenGo application to your phone after a quite long registry (it asks for your driving license, ID number, address etc.) and then look for available cars and their charging info on the map. During the registry, you have to add a 5 digit pin code, which you have to type in after you unlocked the car. Then you will see an identifier code on a small screen in the right corner of the car’s windshield, which you have to type into your phone to unlock the car.
You’ll find the car keys and documents in the glove compartment, which is decorated with some pictograms that help you start the car. (After turning the ignition key you have to type in the pin code again on a panel under the handbrake, and then push the ‘#’ button.)
If you manage to type in the pin code, the car lets you gain control and start your way. But starting an electric car is very different from starting a regular, petrol-fuelled car. This is much more like turning the car on, because it is smooth and noiseless. The cars have automatic transmission shifts, which makes driving in the city very convenient.
An almost fully charged e-Up control panel shows 145 kilometres worth energy. The writer of the original article drove for 6.8 kilometres, which is the recommended distance. According to Bálint, one charging is enough for 100 kilometres realistically, but the effective range depends on the weather conditions. “The accumulator can hardly cope with cold.” The colder the weather, the faster the accumulator goes dead, not to mention that, if you start heating up the car, the process is even faster; you could even “heat away” 20-25 kilometres on a cooler day.
Who is GreenGo designed for?
GreenGo is designed for those who want to rush through the city, but don’t want to trouble with a car – pay taxes, hope for the decrease of petrol prices and look for parking space every night. GreenGo’s cars can be parked anywhere, where it is easily accessible for others. You are obliged to take the cars to charging stations. If they go dead, they are transferred by the company. Although this could be a disadvantage as well, when you’re in a big hurry but can’t find any car close-by.
How much will it cost?
One-time prices cost 5900 forints, out of which the bank account registry is 1000 forints and the starting registry is 4900 forints. Then, the monthly fee is 990 forints, the renting of a car is 65 forints/ minute, so a 40 minute drive would cost 2600 forints. Parking is 15 forints/minute and try to take care of the car keys, because losing them would cost 100 thousand forints.
Rules are still rules
All penalty fares concern the user. Electric cars have are very seductive, because they have an amazing acceleration-time, so watch out for that. “It once happened that we received a paper from the police saying that someone had committed a motoring offence with one of our cars, so we looked into the case and it turned out that the car wasn’t even close. Then it turned out that the wrong registration number was sent in and the foul actually happened with another car. In the end, I realised that it was me” wraps up Bálint. By the way, they see everything from the centre, the location, speed and the condition of the car and they are able to cut out the igniter switch, if needed.
Photos: www.jedlikanyosklaszter.hu, www.greengo.hu
Copy editor: bm