BlueIndy electric car sharing service off to a successful start

Indianapolis resident Gary Reiter is an enthusiastic supporter of the BlueIndy electric car sharing service that began last September. He says both he and his wife have gotten rid of their gas powered cars and now rely on BlueIndy, public transportation, and bicycles to get around the city.

As of the end of January, BlueIndy had 1,000 subscribers, which is greater than the number of Parisians who joined a similar service when it first came to their city. A standard membership costs $9.99 per month. Each rental costs $4 for the first 20 minutes and 20¢ per minute thereafter. A one day membership is free, with a higher rate of $8 for the first 20 minutes and 40¢ per minute thereafter.

There are no fees for parking, insurance, or gasoline. BlueIndy has a network of dedicated parking spaces equipped with chargers. Drivers are assessed a fee of $55 if they fail to plug the car in after they are done using it. There is also a $500 deductible for any damage done to the car by the driver.

Researchers at the University of California in 2011 surveyed 6,200 car sharing members and found that between 9 and 13 private vehicles are given up for every car share vehicle in a fleet. Between 4 and 6 cars were eliminated as a direct result of joining the car sharing program. The remainder came from the number of cars that were not purchased in the first place as a result of the membership.

AAA calculates that the average cost of owning a vehicle in 2105 was $8,698. That includes everything associated with driving a car, from loan payments to taxes, registration fees, depreciation, cost of fuel, repairs, maintenance, tolls, and parking. Even assuming he and his wife spend half that amount on BlueIndy and other alternate transportation,  Reiter estimates the car sharing model is saving his family about $725 a month.

With numbers like that, is it any wonder that many people think car sharing is the wave of the future?