Neighbourhood scheme puts electric car-sharing to the test

Summary

Ten ambassadors in Flemish Brabant have been given the keys to brand-new electric cars, to be shared with friends and neighbours in a bid to reduce traffic and improve air quality

Test drive

A group of test drivers have set off on an electric car-sharing journey, hoping to convince friends, neighbours and colleagues to give up their own vehicles.

The 10 ambassadors represent people from all walks of life, from families to students to pensioners. The Test Riders project – a collaboration between environmental organisation Bond Beter Leefmilieu and car-sharing company Autodelen.net – is being piloted in Flemish Brabant and will be extended to other provinces in the region.   

Participants received the keys to their new electric Nissan Leaf this week. The idea is that they will share the vehicles with neighbours, friends, colleagues and even strangers, to encourage the use of electric cars and show that car-sharing can be a realistic option for most people. The Blue Corner network has installed 20 extra charging points locally to allow participants to refuel their cars.

“I work in a therapeutic center in Leuven, where we make huge efforts to achieve sustainable energy consumption,” says ambassador Mattias Bouckaert. “Switching to electric driving was a logical next step for us. Along with 40 employees and neighbours, I’m happy to try out shared electric driving. All our colleagues will be using the car, but it is also open to local residents, friends and family.”

Anyone wishing to use one of the 10 cars can contact the ambassadors via the website

Laurien Spruyt, policy officer for mobility at Bond Beter Leefmilieu, says: “First and foremost, we would like to see people walk, cycle or use public transport. But if people still opt for the car, we prefer that they switch to electric driving and car sharing. The more people who do that, the better it is for air quality. That’s why we’re looking for another 10 candidates, as well as people who want to rent the test drivers’ cars and experience electric driving themselves.”

The province of Flemish Brabant has provided a €53,000 subsidy to support the project. Transport accounts for 44% of carbon dioxide emissions in the province, primarily from diesel cars, and the authorities are aiming to make the province climate-neutral by 2040. The Flemish government is providing a further €98,250.

Ten ambassadors in Flemish Brabant have been given the keys to brand-new electric cars, to be shared with friends and neighbours in a bid to reduce traffic and improve air quality

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