During the recent 2018 International Drive Electric Week, I was lucky enough to test out the smooth drive of a brand new Yoogo Share BMW i3. It wasn’t just the electric glide, but the whole Yoogo Share experience went smoothly.
But after I returned the car I felt quite deflated.
Yoogo Share is a fully electric car sharing service.
Saying goodbye to Chrys, my Yoogo Share electric car, left me feeling like I'd just rediscovered gravity.
That’s because after dropping Chrys back to its home, I had to get back behind the wheel of my clackety, clonky Mazda MPV. It really does clack and it really does clonk. I believe something is loose in the engine bay.
Of course, you don't have to worry about engine problems with an electric vehicle. But even if I did have a mechanical issue with a Yoogo Share vehicle, it wouldn’t be MY problem.
And as we race towards the chequered flag of 2018, I couldn’t help considering whether owning a car will even be necessary in 2019 and beyond.
"if one were to go carless, there’ll always be times when one still needs a car. So why not Share the cost of owning a car."
For me, part of the Yoogo Share experience was relearning how to use the dreaded Auckland public transport system. I’d noted that public transport in Auckland works exceptionally well if you are fortunate enough to have easy access to it. But Auckland is geographically a sprawling city. So, for many of us, public transport has not, in the past, been a viable option.
Times are changing. Auckland Transport is constantly tweaking its services. For example, the complete revision of the North Shore bus routes on 30 September, which have already been completed in other city zones. Not forgetting the new service in from Warkworth beginning soon. And electric buses have begun to be rolled out, while electric trains are already prevalent in the city.
My journey home to Albany meant I had to catch one of the Northern Express buses. Total trip in rush hour - 35 minutes, compared to the usual 60 in a car.
Also on the plus side, I was surprised to find the Nex double-decker buses (still diesel mind) were very modern, clean inside, didn't smell and even provided charging ports for USB devices. The scan-in/scan-off HOP system was simple, streamlining the loading process. On top of all that, the drop-off point was so convenient, just a hundred metre walk from the Yoogo Share entrance on Albert Street.
The downside? Definitely parking at Albany Park and Ride, which was full by 7:30 am. Potentially though I could take a feeder bus into the main depot if I were to be carless altogether.
And that’s where Yoogo Share comes into play—because if one were to go carless, there’ll always be times when one still needs a car. For me, it will be visiting family at Auckland’s farthest boundaries. Even with a bus to Warkworth or a train to Pukekohe, I’d still be left with a 15-minute rural drive beyond those points.
Who Would Use Car Sharing?
I’ve given a lot of thought to the Yoogo Share concept and wondered who would be their potential customers. I’ve come up with the following five scenarios. Although I’m sure there will be others.
1. The Carless Central City Business Person
Perhaps this person lives in the downtown area or uses public transport to commute in. On occasional this business person may need to run errands or attend occasional suburban meetings, necessitating a vehicle in the city.
Yoogo Share’s Auckland electric cars come with their own carpark between Federal and Albert Streets near St Patrick’s Square. This is a 2-minute walk to almost anywhere downtown or a link bus uptown. Once the underground is finished, there will be a station adjacent on Albert Street. The business person can come and go without needing to worry about, and pay extra for, parking in the city.
Looking down into the pit on Albert Street, where the Underground track is currently being built.
2. The Carless Family's Weekender
Public transport can be less cost-effective when the whole household is using it on the same trip, and tricky if you have a lot of luggage. Yoogo Share makes it easy to visit family, suburban friends, or even a day at the beach. One of you walks or takes public transport into the Albert Street pickup point. Drives back home to collect the family, the child car seats, the picnic basket or the bags, and off you go.
Do your sums. By removing all your current vehicle expenses, hiring an EV for the few occasions you need it each month, may well make financial sense.
3. Business Pool Car
Yoogo Share began in Christchurch. There, the service has already grown to the point where several large organisations have direct access to the Yoogo Share fleet. This means that: FBT, capital tie-up, maintenance + tyres, WOF, and most insurances are all no longer issues for these customers. I can imagine an SME, who perhaps can’t afford staff cars, finding this option to be especially attractive.
The mighty ANZ Tower, which houses the Yoogo Share carparks, is too big a challenge for my phone camera.
4. Late Night Hospitality Workers
Perhaps city workers have travelled in on public transport, but having worked overtime have missed the last bus home. They could grab a Yoogo Share car overnight and drop it back the following morning, with overnight rates being very reasonable.
5. The Out-of-Town Traveller
For those who have flown into town for the day or a few days, Yoogo Share is an all-electric option that sustainably-minded travellers can feel confident using.
At the conclusion of your car share, you just plug it back in and swipe off
The Nuts and Bolts of the Yoogo Share System
The Yoogo Share system works via an access card linked to your credit-card-enabled account. The card unlocks the vehicle via a windscreen swipe device. It pays to set your car sharing account up ahead of time, so the card can be delivered to you.
Setting up your account and subsequent bookings are made online at yoogoshare.co.nz or via their Android or iOS app. It is important to pick up and drop off within a half-hour of the booked time. Otherwise, the booking will cancel. If plans change, the booking can easily be altered by phoning the 0800 number. Yoogo Share does not run an office in the carpark building, but the 0800 number is a 24-hour service.
No key is required, nor does the card act as an ignition key. However, this means you do need to lock the vehicle when parking by swiping the card on the windscreen reader so that someone doesn’t just drive it away.
On returning, it needs to be parked in the same spot and there is a charging station at the carpark to plug in. Then it is simply a matter of locking the car with your access card by swiping the windscreen, and most importantly, swiping the charging station with your access card to end your booking.
The current carpark is accessed by a lift in the foyer of the ANZ tower on Albert and Federal Streets. You will need your Yoogo Share Access Card to operate the lifts. While waiting in the ANZ foyer for the lift, you'll be standing in front of an inspired braille-like work of art which screams out “touch me”, despite two big signs saying not to. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice those and I did get a stern telling off.
Peata Larkin’s Piki Ake_Rise Up is designed to acknowledge and welcome people as they come up from the carparks in the basement. It is made of acrylic on gauze attached to an LED light box and took the artist two years to create.
Each Yoohoo Share vehicle comes with its own cute name. I have now borrowed Chrys twice. Chrys is an i3, but Yoogo Share plan to introduce a Hyundai ioniq into Auckland soon. As demand for the service grows, like Christchurch, Auckland will receive more vehicles and more pickup points.
I hope this won’t be the last time Chrys and I meet. It really is the smart way to get around town.
Since this blog was published two days ago, Yoogo Share has announced that Auckland now has a Hyundai ioniq BEV available as well.
[Rachelle Tilsley - Better NZ Trust - 26 Sep 2018]