First published on 29 Apr 2011. Updated on 29 Apr 2011.
Sydney has never been afraid to embrace the future. The Opera House, Monorail and the worldwide phenomenon of Earth Hour are testament to that. Now we've welcomed a charging station for electric cars to our city - the first in Australia.
The charging station on the corner of Glebe Point Road and Derby Place in Glebe will allow the coverted hybrid Toyota Prius to plug into 100 per cent GreenPower and run for 30km with zero emissions before transferring to hybrid petrol-electric power.
Although electric car charging stations have also popped up in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Vancouver and London, it shows Sydney at the vanguard of the global movement to reduce smog, greenhouse gas, traffic congestion and noise on our streets.
Most major car companies are expected to launch the first fully electric models in 2012. Current projections say electric-powered driving costs just $2-3 per 100km.
And Sydney will be ready - 50 retrofitted plug-in Hybrid EVs have been ordered by City of Sydney Council for the next 18 months, another key step toward reaching Lord Mayor Clover Moore's goal of reducing 2006's carbon emission levels 70 per cent by 2030.
For now, the big winners are the 3,000 Sydneysiders and 500 small businesses signed up with car share companies. The sole electric car on Sydney's streets belongs to the GoGet car-share fleet where 80 per cent of trips are under 28km - perfect for the plug-in Prius 30km cap, says GoGet founder Bruce Jeffreys. "If there is demand from members, which we think there will be, we'll continue to roll out more vehicles in more locations."
Car share memberships have grown more than 1,000 per cent globally this past decade as eco-minded motorists reject the expense and hassle of car ownership, maintenance and insurance in favour of strategically booked bursts of activity. As it stands, Sydney has 120 dedicated on-street car share spaces, four times that of any other Australian city.
Here's how to car-share the love:
Step 1: Choose a car share company and sign up online. Choose a payment plan that suits you and await your access card allowing you to open the car in your booked time.
Step 2: Choose the car most suitable for your needs and book it online or over the phone. Bookings can be made at the last minute or up to one year in advance.
Step 3: Meet your car and use your access card to unlock the doors. Keys are inside.
Step 4: Drive away. You can take the car wherever you like - just make sure you return it to the same car space before your reservation time expires.
Car share companies in Sydney
GoGet offers a $25 one-off joining fee plus (after refundable $500 security deposit) and thereafter bills at $9 (for occasional use) plus $7.50 per hour; or $29 per month (for frequent use) plus $4.90 per hour. Corporate rates available. Drivers must be at least 21 years old and have a minimum of two years driving experience. (1300 769 389).
Flexicar has a $50 one-off joining fee plus $50 annual insurance fee and membership for $10 per month (including one free hour) at $12 per hour with corporate rates available and value plans available for frequent usage. No age restrictions. (1300 363 780).
Charter Drive has a $25 one-off joining fee and bills from $12 per hour (for occasional use) and $25 per month plus $7 per hour (for frequent use). Regulars pay $40 per month plus $5.50 per hour. Drivers must be over 21 with no licence cancellations or suspensions in the last five years. (1300 135 358).