Smart Solutions

Electric car-sharing

An electric car is made available in the village for short-term rent at low cost. A charging point is also provided, supplied by a photovoltaic carport.

Implemented inVillerouge-Termenès

Country : France


What’s the solution?

This car-sharing system proposes one electric car for rent, recharged thanks to a photovoltaic system in a car port providing shade to the vehicle. Local inhabitants are given priority use and pay a reduced price compared to external visitors. The car can be rented easily via a mobile application or an online platform. Rental is limited to a duration of one day maximum in order to guarantee the vehicle’s availability for others to share.

What makes it smart?

This electric car responds to the ecological orientation of the village, since it is powered exclusively by photovoltaic energy. It also includes a social vision since the service is offered at a low cost for the inhabitants of the village, bringing no financial surplus for the municipality. Addressing the lack of public transport facilities, this initiative is an economic, social and ecologic answer to the isolation problems of Villerouge-Termenès

Thus, the solution is smart because it allows the development of green mobility offering a new, alternative vision of transportation building on the potential of new technologies. It helps address both the lack of public transport services and the complexity of everyday life in a remote village.

The electric car-sharing system uses new technology in several forms, including:

  • a photovoltaic carport used to feed an electric charging station;
  • a new online booking platform
  • the development of a mobile application to rent the car

The system also demonstrates strong environmental and social benefits, including:

  • Reduction of number of cars on the roads – with associated reductions in CO2 emissions, other forms of pollution and pressure on public space
  • Encouraging local people to get used to electric vehicles
  • The provision of a reduced price service for local users
  • Helping to fight social isolation, creating social interactions in a rural area;

The solution is also a new and creative way to communicate about the village.

How is the solution implemented?

  • The existence of a strong community is the first step for the implementation of this solution. As it constitutes a service from the municipality, it should meet a real need. To do so, the municipality should be aware of local needs by exchanging with citizens, asking: how people move, what type of car they use, what is their opinion of public transport?
  • The project should be implemented in a participatory way. Guided by a sharing principle, the vehicle is used by various people in the village. The pricing, use and objective of the car should also be defined together with local inhabitants, to guarantee their use of the service.
  • To implement a virtuous green circle, the municipality should also think about how to complete existing infrastructures and technologies. This implies thinking through the whole life circle of the service: from the location of the shading to benefit from photovoltaic energy, to the existence of a charging point and the use of an electric car.
  • The development of the mobile and online platform implies finding a private service willing to accept a modulation of prices for the users (as the half-day prices are different for the inhabitants who pay 6 euros and for external visitors who pay 15 euros).

In what local context has it been applied?

The village of Villerouge is located in the Occitanie region, in the “Country of Cathars”. The village benefits from a local castle and is relatively popular with tourists.

However, the village is 40 kilometres from the nearest large city; it suffers from isolation, and is poorly served by public transport.  As the lack of public transport in the area was impacting everyday-life, many families would use one or two cars per home, negatively impacting on the local environment and the use of public space.

Who was behind the implementation?

  • Local citizens – who first inspired the project
  • The municipality of Villerouge-Termenès

Partners:

  • Clem’, the private company which provided the online platform service
  • SYADEN (Syndicat Audois d’énergies)

What was the local journey?

  • In line with its policy oriented towards quality tourism development and alternative energy, the municipality of Villerouge-Termenès initiated at the end of 2016 a project to install a photovoltaic carport of 200 m2, used to feed an electric charging station of 36kW in the parking lot which welcomes visitors to the castle and the town.
  • The installation of two charging stations under the carport (project carried out with the support of SYADEN – the county’s union for public services in energy and digital services) was made to welcome electric vehicles as part of a tourist circuit in the “Country of Cathars” by allowing visitors to recharge their car batteries during the visit to the site.
  • In 2017, a group of inhabitants shared the idea of investing in an electric car. As the charging point was not being used by any electric vehicle most of the time, the municipality decided to use this existing electrical charging point to set up a shared car and make this resource of benefit the whole community.
  • From this idea, the municipality invested in an electric vehicle (Renault Zoé) to install in Villerouge in 2018, under the carport. The municipality specifically mobilised the LEADER LAG Est Audois to support them financially for the purchase of the car.
  • Following this, the municipality precisely defined an organisation plan to develop the project and define how the car would be used and how the rental would work ( rent via the internet or by visiting the town hall, creation of a database of users, types of subscription, reservation mode, check restitution, cleaning, accountability...).
  • At the same time, the municipality decided to create an extra-municipal commission composed of citizens, to collectively decide on the prices of this new service. They set the level of annual subscriptions at 25 euros, an option only available for local inhabitants. The car was made available for 6 euros per half-day to residents and 15 euros per half-day to external visitors The price was kept as low as possible for service users, which means the municipality does not get any financial profit from it.
  • An external service provider (Clem’) was contracted to develop an online platform and mobile phone application to organise the car-rental and to facilitate the use of this service.
  • When not being used by the public, the car is made available for the municipality team.
  • The municipality has also decided to use this car as a promotional tool: the car displays an image of Villerouge Castle, raising awareness of the village as a place to visit.

What have been the main outputs & results?

  • The service has seen a high uptake, with 40 of the village’s 150 inhabitants – almost 1/3 of the population – using the car regularly.
  • Debating and organising the provision of this vehicle led to the strengthening of interactions between residents, through the commission and general assemblies.
  • This vehicle also supports the work of City Hall teams, being used as part of their duties to promote the Villerouge initiative as well as green mobility.

What does it bring the village/community?

Addressing the lack of public transport facilities, this initiative is an economic, social and ecologic answer to the isolation problems of Villerouge-Termenès.

  • The electric car sharing service meets a social need, and provides the opportunity for everyone, at low cost, to move around the region to carry out basic activities (going shopping, to the doctor, etc.) for 6 euros per half day.
  • It opens up Villerouge to its territory and facilitates exchanges with other municipalities.
  • The development of greener mobility is a key challenge and helps the municipality to pursue its vision to reduce environmental impact. It can be expected that local people will become increasingly used to electric vehicles and consider replacing their current more polluting vehicle(s) in the future.
  • It is a way of promoting social interactions, by also promoting carpooling or car-sharing in the village.
  • By displaying an advertisement for the village, the car also contributes to promoting Villerouge as an attractive, historic tourist spot.

What’s needed

Financial resources

Financial needs:

Initial investment (177 656 EUR):

● 131 300 euros for the photovoltaic carport and the charging point

● 28 713 euros for acquiring the car

● 17 643 euros for the set-up of the online platform and maintenance of the service for 3 years

Ongoing costs:

● The cost for the village is 1 000 euros per year, to ensure the functioning of this service (payment of the online platform, cleaning, user help…)

Funding received:
SourceAmountFunded
National government61,000 €Acquisition and installation of photovoltaic carport and charging point
Aude County26,600 €Acquisition and installation of photovoltaic carport and charging point
SYADEN10,500 €Acquisition and installation of photovoltaic carport and charging point
Municipality32,200 €Acquisition and installation of photovoltaic carport and charging point
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) (LEADER)29,667 €- Electric car purchase - 3 years management for the service - online application and website
Aude county2,524 €- Electric car purchase - 3 years management for the service - online application and website
Region4,040 €- Electric car purchase - 3 years management for the service - online application and website
Municipality10,123 €- Electric car purchase - 3 years management for the service - online application and website

Human resources

- The smart solution does not need 7/7 human capacity as it works automatically through the online application system ;

- Day-to-day management administered by the municipality: One person may occasionally be needed for the maintenance of the service (user help, cleaning…)

Physical resources

- Photovoltaic carport

- Charging point

- Electric car

- Online platform and mobile application

What to do…

  • Verify that the project meets a real need, expressed by the population
  • Implement a participatory approach to define the service with the citizens, to guarantee they will use it
  • Create a citizens’ commission to involve the inhabitants throughout the process and to improve the service

and not to do

  • Do not develop this type of project if there is no need expressed, as it constitutes a service in competition with public mobility services
  • The municipality should not develop this type of project with the idea of making a profit from it
  • Do not develop this project in a unilateral way, without taking into account external views on the issue of mobility

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