Oops.

San Francisco's City CarShare service, which is adding plug-in vehicles to its fleet as a way to boost demand, must contend with the occasional glitch involving drivers unfamiliar with the technology. For example, one driver recently ran out of juice while driving a Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle from San Francisco to Sacramento, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The problem? He didn't realize the car was electric.

As Mike Harrigan, the head of City CarShare's plug-in vehicle operations, told the Chronicle, "There's two kinds of members. There are the ones who are totally into EVs and understand what to do, and there are people who are totally oblivious, don't even realize it's an electric car and drive off to Sacramento."

City CarShare, a nonprofit that serves about 15,000 subscribers, currently has seven plug-ins sprinkled among its fleet of 380 vehicles and is looking to have half its fleet be powered by either hybrid, plug-in or biofuel powertrains by 2015. Currently, about a quarter are Toyota Prius hybrids. Each EV costs City CarShare about $30 a month to charge. Additionally, the organization is planning to have 30 electric-vehicle charging stations installed around the Bay Area by year-end.

Even with some "oblivious" drivers, San Francisco is a pretty ideal place for such a service because of the combination of an environmentally conscious population and the city's relatively small area – San Francisco proper is just 49 square miles. In fact, City CarShare, which received the first-ever fleet delivery of a Mitsubishi i EV in December, in February said it would start an electric-bike sharing program that will be sponsored by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and would include 45 e-bikes by the end of the year.

As for absent-minded customers still looking to go green, City CarShare does have a solution for that: the organization's fleet does include Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in vehicles and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids. Get in, go nuts.


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  • 23 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ummm, did it go into "limp mode" with the turtle indicator illuminated??? That should have allowed him to get to a safe place. He could have pulled into a service shop where the technicians would have kindly laughed in his face.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Was the car plugged in when he rented it? If so, unplugging the car must have been a bit of a clue.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Same kind of driver that warrants putting 'motor' noises on silent electric cars. I sleep during the day, work at night. I don't need your car making anything other than wind and road noise. This guy prolly tried to cream some pedestrians on his way to Sac town.
      Bill Kim
      • 8 Months Ago
      HAHAHA DUMMY DUMMY DUMMY running out of battery like that. "Wow this car sure is quiet!" HAHAHAHAHA. Okay, seriously. People need to learn how to read the not so fine print.
      Archonic
      • 8 Months Ago
      The dash and sound indication go totally nuts before running out of juice. There's honestly no excuse for not knowing the car was electric - it still has an energy gage! Seriously.... this just makes me think this is some kind of anti EV stunt. What a tool.
      porosavuporo
      • 3 Years Ago
      In a way, this is super awesome. There is an EV that looks and drives just like a regular car without people realizing. Nissan has managed to sneak them into regular peoples lives under the radar.
        Spec
        • 8 Months Ago
        @porosavuporo
        Yes, that is an interesting observation. But in a way, it is kinda sad since it would be nice if the EVs were lighter & more aerodynamic . . . but you can only move the consumer along in small baby steps. Large steps (like the Aptera) get rejected.
          Archonic
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Spec
          The leaf is quite good with aero dynamics. It will unfortunately be a very long time till EV's are light due to battery tech. And the Aptera failed cause the company made huge mistake after huge mistake. Totally wretched management...
        throwback
        • 8 Months Ago
        @porosavuporo
        I doubt this is the way Nissan wants people to experience the Leaf.
      garylai
      • 3 Years Ago
      There will always be dumb people. Someone obliviously driving a BEV until it runs out of range despite the numerous cues the car gives you would be far better than a person driving a diesel car and putting gasoline in it and wrecking the engine. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with BEV or diesel cars, it just means there are lots of people that don't have a clue.
        DaveMart
        • 8 Months Ago
        @garylai
        In the recent petrol shortage scare in the UK due to a possible tanker driver strike the Government foolishly advised people to fill jerry cans with petrol. A lady attempted to decant from the Jerry can to a glass container in the kitchen with appliances switched on. 40% burns. The power of human stupidity should never be underestimated.
          DaveMart
          • 8 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          BTW, this of course proves that gasoline cars are too dangerous to be used by the public pending a full Congressional enquiry.
      Nick
      • 8 Months Ago
      This could be my dad, he still doesn't believe our car is a mild hybrid.
      amtoro
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wonder what the driver thought when the Very Low Battery Warning came on and the car said "The battery level is very low, please find the nearest charging station" OTOH, he/she might have thought that the car was funny... it said charging instead of gasoline...
        JakeY
        • 8 Months Ago
        @amtoro
        He/she probably thought it was talking about the normal car battery! And the fact that Nissan designed the engine bay to look exactly like an ICE car's (with the regular 12V battery and everything) doesn't help. However, the Leaf does have pretty obvious cues (for example the 12 fuel bars on the dashboard that mimics the one in gas cars. It also shows what looks like a gas pump except with a plug). Plus it shows the range left in the car too. It probably would have made he stopped by the quick charger in Vacaville (which is almost exactly in the middle of SF and Sacramento).
      Rich M
      • 8 Months Ago
      People who know that little about the device they are operating should never be behind the wheel, regardless of whats under the hood.
      Spec
      • 8 Months Ago
      Yeah, the 'miles left' the pump with the plug, the low battery warning, the absolute lack of any engine noise or vibration, etc. . . . he had plenty of cues. He's just an idiot. Even if it was a gas car, this guy would have run out of gas if it only a 1/4 of a tank or so because he just didn't bother to look at the instrumentation.
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      The leaf has a trip computer that will tell you whether it can make it to a destination that is entered. City Car Chare could be a little better about educating members, the description page for the nissan leaf does not list its range or mention its limitations. It seems like a great service if your only occasionally need a car, especially in the city where parking is a problem.
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