New Cars and Locations Coming Soon

At the start of the year, we excitedly announced that we’d be adding a few new cars and locations to our network in 2012. We just wanted to give you an update on our progress as we know you’re as anxious as we are to expand.

Last year, CarShare Vermont was part of a regional effort to secure a sizeable grant from the Federal Highway Administration to implement a variety of transportation projects with our stellar partners. Thanks to these funds, we’ll be acquiring three new vehicles and expanding beyond Burlington’s borders for the very first time. One car is destined for downtown Winooski (it’s about time!). Specifically, it will live at Spinner Place, spending its summers in a spot right on Winooski Falls Way (in front of Cupp’s Cafe and the indoor CCTA bus stop) and staying warm during the winter months inside the Winooski Downtown Parking Garage. A hearty thanks to the City of Winooski and the friendly businesses who are making way for our new addition.

We plan to locate the second vehicle in South Burlington on Shelburne Road, near the Shaw’s grocery store, though we have yet to finalize an exact location at the complex. The third vehicle will find its home in Burlington, ideally filling in a gap between our existing locations. If you’ve been hankering for a CarShare Vermont pod in your hood, now’s the time to get the chatter going with your neighbors and let us know. Keep in mind that if there’s already a vehicle within a few blocks of your home, we probably can’t come any closer just yet. We’re hoping to plug a hole in our network by serving a neighborhood that currently doesn’t have a vehicle to use within a half-mile walk.

As for timing of these new locations, we wish we could give you exact dates. Truth be told, we’ve got a couple of more hoops to jump through before we can access the funds to purchase the cars. We are cautiously optimistic that the stars will align sometime this summer. We’ll continue to keep you posted.

What kind of cars you ask?

That’s a good question. Over the past several months, we’ve been researching some different makes and models as we consider how to grow our fleet and replace our higher mileage vehicles that will soon be put out to pasture. When car shopping, as we’re sure you know, there are lots of factors that influence our decisions. Top priorities are safety, fuel efficiency, cost, and comfort (and with our current buying situation, we also need to consider where the vehicle is manufactured to meet our grant requirements). We’ve been out on a few test drives so far and particularly enjoyed the Ford Focus hatchback. It was comfortable and roomy; affordable without feeling chintzy; and it averages 31 miles per gallon (38 on the highway). We’ll also be taking the Honda Fit for a spin and have heard very positive feedback about this car.

What about more hybrids? Well, we do love our pack of Priuses and will always strive to make them a staple in our fleet. But they are more expensive to buy and maintain than some other models that lag only marginally on fuel efficiency. At the end of the day, we can provide three fuel-efficient gas vehicles for the price of two hybrids; and with a member to vehicle ratio of more than 50 to one, that’s a lot more people sharing cars and cutting their carbon by driving less. We also realize our members would benefit from some larger vehicles for schlepping kids to Little League and taking family vacations. We’re eyeing some minivans and other family-mobiles to add down the road.

Love your car and would consider giving it up if we offered one just like it in our fleet? Got any feedback on the models we’ve mentioned? Becca, our Operations Manager, would love to hear from you. Give her a shout at becca@carsharevt.org.