Electric vehicles are not only out to ruin the weekend, they are now out to ruin the working week too. Or so it seems.
Ohmie GO is an EV car-share company with one big difference: its cars are available exclusively to people who live and work in the buildings they are stationed in.
The company rents out EVs to residents and workers at some of Australia’s biggest office buildings via an app, and has a number of deals in the pipeline with major ASX-listed companies.
After the success of a 2019 trial at Melbourne’s EQ, Ohmie Go recently cut a deal with commercial real estate major Knight Frank that will see EVs made available in a pipeline of big office buildings in capital cities.
The first of these is in North Sydney, where office workers can rent a Tesla Model 3 for $15 an hour.
And while the EVs simultaneously help the companies that manage those buildings improve their green building scores, there are benefits for those using them also.
“We’re trying to create an exclusive offer for the building, that makes it more attractive, and also lets the asset owner use those services to make their green building score a better score, to reach ESG targets,” Ohmie Go CEO and founder Kyle Bolto tells The Driven.
But the model also means more people get a chance to drive an EV, while not having to deal with the issues of higher costs of purchase – or owning a car at all for that matter. It’s what underpins the Ohmie Go philosophy.
“The overwhelming vast majority of people haven’t had a chance to drive e an EV,” says Bolto.
“For us we are hugely committed to sustainability as our mission, but secondly we think of EVs as a technology question, not a political question. It’s the best form of technology available to us at this time.”
But car sharing can be a hit and miss experience – you never know what to expect of the person who used it before you. Bolto says by making the EVs exclusive to building residents, there is a better user experience.
“They become a valuable building amenity and people also look after them better – there’s a chance they know the next person getting in.”
But there’s still a lot of skepticism about electric vehicles from those worried there are not enough to place to charge them, or that they are not powerful enough to tow.
Dispelling those fears has fuelled the saying “ruining the weekend”, and Ohmie Go has jumped on board to further that message.
“We launched a program called Electric Weekends,” says Bolto, in which the company loans an EV to a follower for the weekend so they can share how it has “electrified” their weekend.
The first of these is Tim Weales, national sustainability manager for SCA Property Group who drove a Hyundai Kona EV from Sydney to Orange and back over the Easter weekend – a total of 1,000km or so when trips into town from his parents over the weekend were added in.
“We had no range anxiety at all,” says Weales. “Even driving out to Orange, the car was telling me how much range I had left, I knew the distance to go. I also knew there was a fast charger at Lithgow and Bathurst, I knew if I had to pull over for even 10 minutes would give me extra 100km of range.”
But he says he didn’t need to – he just plugged into the 240v supply at his parents overnight. By midday the next day, the battery was charged again.
The experience was so easy that he now says he feels it’s more inconvenient to have to go to fill up the tank at the service station.
“It was so good, not having to think about going to a petrol station,” says Weales.
Bolto says its experiences like these that prove EVs don’t ruin the weekend – or the day-to-day week.
“If you’re running around the city, you’ve got a couple of kids, there is nothing better. It’s not going to ruin your weekend and long trips but on the other hand if you’re in the city its just a fantastic mode of transport.”
“Taking that a step further, being able to have these vehicles available as car share takes more vehicles off the road. It moves us to sustainable transport in two ways at once.”
“We sincerely believe it’s the best form of transport and something we should be pushing for as a nation.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.