While Forth Mobility had to delay the spring launch of their three-year electric carshare pilot program due to COVID-19, the nonprofit has acquired all five parking spots needed for the project, and expects to announce a new launch date soon.
“At this point, we are working to get charging stations installed at those locations and then we’ll be moving toward a public launch,” said Program Manager Kelly Yearick. “That is the last piece in the puzzle that needs to be in place before we bring the cars in.”
The goal of the project, called the Clean Rural Shared Electric Mobility (CRuSE) Project, is to demonstrate that plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) car-sharing can serve rural communities in a financially sustainable way that also benefits low-income residents, tourists and local businesses.
Forth, a nonprofit trade association based in Portland, announced the project back in August 2019 after receiving a $548,540 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“This project first came on our radar … as a way to provide carless tourism through the Gorge utilizing the Columbia Gorge Express bus: Stop off at the Barman property, walk across the street and rent yourself an electronic vehicle to drive around, catch your bus back, and you’ve done the Gorge without using your own vehicle,” said Genevieve Scholl.
The Port of Hood River agreed to provide one parking space near the Columbia Gorge Express stop, with the potential to add a second space later if it’s needed; and the City of Hood River agreed to provide up to two pre-identified parking spaces for the project along with in-kind support such as access to City offices for meetings. Forth also plans to utilize two parking spaces at Columbia Cascade Housing Developments.
While Forth will take back the vehicles at the end of the pilot program, the City, Port and Columbia Cascade Housing have the option to keep the charging stations installed on their property, or have Forth remove them.
Envoy Technologies, a California-based company that specializes in shared electric vehicles, will supply an app for the program once it launches. Through the app, which Forth stated will also have a Spanish version, users will be able to reserve and access vehicles, paying by either the minute or the hour, but alternate payment mechanisms and tiered pricing structures will also be available.
If successful, Forth stated that the CRuSE project has the potential to bring PEV car sharing services to rural communities nationwide.