PRISMS focused on developing intelligent in-vehicle technology and analytical tools to reduce the barriers to the use of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in car sharing services and fleets.

The project was undertaken by Urban Foresight in collaboration with Co-Wheels and Route Monkey following a successful application to the Low Emission Transport Collaborative Projects Fund.

Car sharing schemes, known as ‘car clubs’ in the UK are increasingly becoming an important part of urban transport systems. They have also become a proving ground for low emission vehicles such as hybrid and full electric vehicles. High utilisation means these vehicles offer opportunities to achieve significant emissions reductions and to give multiple members of the public the experience of driving electric vehicles for the first time and to build confidence in these new technologies. In addition, increased use of shared electric vehicles are increasingly being seen by organisations as a way to reduce costs and emissions from both retained fleet and ‘grey’ fleets.

However, integrating electric vehicles into car sharing schemes present a number of technical and financial challenges. Specifically, the requirement to schedule recharging sessions throughout the day can limit the utilisation of these vehicles, as well as restrict the journeys that can be made in these vehicles.

This project set out to develop tools and business models to address this challenge and support Co-Wheels, one of the UK’s leading car sharing operators, to expand the number of electric vehicles in their nationwide fleet.

Urban Foresight’s led the research undertaken in this project which informed work done by Co-Wheels and Route Monkey developing of a vehicle-based technology package involving algorithms and analytical tools. Specifically, Urban Foresight reviewed:

  • The evolution of car clubs and their operational models;
  • Costs and practical challenges associated with operating plug-in vehicles in car clubs;
  • Generic factors that impact fleets’ capacity to use shared electric vehicles;
  • How local authorities could encourage electric carsharing; and
  • Intelligent mobility for carsharing and fleets.