kandi ev carsharing vending machineChina's cities are blanketed by toxic haze with air pollution that can shut down places like Beijing. Of course, there are many citizens who want to move from a scooter to a car, but that could create more pollution. In steps carsharing, and an idea from Kandi Technologies Group that its small electric vehicles could be part of the solution in the city of Hangzhou, an hour-long train ride from Shanghai.

Kandi produces a small, Smart-car like EV that can go 75 miles on a charge and reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour. Seems like boilerplate EV territory, right? Except that they're being stored in vending machine-like parking garages and can be rented for $3.25 per hour. See for yourself in the video below by filmmaker Aaron Rockett.

The EVs are stored in vending machine-like parking garages and can be rented for $3.25 per hour.

Through its joint venture with Geely Automotive, Kandi plans to build 750 (!) of these garages in Hangzhou over the next four years. This will be supported by the government and Kandi's 50-50 joint venture with Geely Automotive. Kandi wins, too, since it could supply up to 100,000 EVs to serve carsharers. If things work well in Hangzhou, this business model could spread to other Chinese cities and regions such as Shanghai, Shandong and Hainan.

Geely and Kandi started their joint venture early in 2013 with an initial investment of one billion yuan (about $160 million US). The idea has been to research, develop, produce and market EVs together, and the car-vending machine project could play an important role in where the companies go from here.

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