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New electric carsharing program aims to help low-income Charlotteans with transportation

The idea is to provide access to transportation when needed without incurring the costs of maintenance or repairs.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new initiative launching in Charlotte will not only boost the use of electric cars in the city but also aims to provide lower-income residents with access to transportation without dealing with some of the costs of maintaining a car.

The city of Charlotte announced Thursday it had partnered with the Centralina Regional Council and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to start an electric carsharing program. It's part of the Affordable Mobility Platform funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and managed by Forth Mobility

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The announcement from the city said the carsharing program will launch in July 2023 with 10 shared electric cars available to residents and staff in five affordable housing developments across Charlotte. 538 housing units have been committed for the program, and eligible residents with valid driver's licenses will be able to test-drive the cars to get familiar with them.

The cars will be available to rent for a small daily or hourly fee, and residents can reserve them online according to the city. The program is funded for two years and designed to continue as a self-funded model for years to come.

"With Governor Cooper’s administration's focus on the rapid and equitable shift to electric transportation, this innovative project will serve as a model for wider-scale EV sharing in underserved communities across the state," said Stan Cross, Electric Transportation Policy Director at SACE. "The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has been advocating for centering equity in state electric transportation policies, plans, and programs. We are excited to roll up our sleeves with our partners and help get it done." 

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Another objective of the program includes boosting the electric car charging infrastructure in Charlotte, specifically in multi-unit housing areas. The city government's announcement said a lack of charging stations in those developments has been deemed a key barrier to more adoption of electric cars. To that end, two chargers will be installed in each community, with two charging ports each. One port on each charger will be used to charge a charged car stationed there, while the other port will be available for electric cars around the community.

"AMP presents a novel model that addresses several intersectional issues faced by many middle to lower-income residents," said Patrick King, Electric Transportation Equity Manager at SACE. The program provides a means of transportation that reduces emissions, and at a low cost, that's a fraction of traditional vehicle ownership that doesn't break the bank. The benefits of which improve the air quality, not just for members of the housing developments but for all communities."

“Our region is at the crossroads of equity and unprecedented levels of funding for transportation electrification; therefore, this project is extremely timely and will further define the role local governments can play in the deployment of electric vehicles for everyone,” added Jason Wager, Assistant Director at Centralina Regional Council and Director, Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition. The Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition, housed at the Centralina Regional Council, is poised to build on its previous EV project learnings to benefit our region and beyond.”

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