News - Toyota - Prius - PHEV
GoGet grabs four plug-in Priuses for its car-sharing
Toyota uses GoGet as platform to test market waters before Prius PHEV reaches market
18 Jul 2013
By IAN PORTER
THE 33,000 members of GoGet’s car-sharing scheme will be among the first drivers in Australia to get their hands on Toyota’s plug-in hybrid Prius, which is not yet on sale.
The unique deal with Toyota means GoGet is positioning itself as a launch platform for new automotive technology, giving car-makers a chance to test the market without making a full-blown product launch.
GoGet has got its hands on four plug-in Priuses that were initially imported in 2010 as demonstrators and farmed out by Toyota to various significant fleets and other potential customers.
The PHEV Prius can be recharged in 100 minutes via a 15-amp outlet and has a range of 20kms on a full charge, before a supplementary petrol motor kicks in. It can do up to 100km/h on electricity alone.
The cars were part of a fleet of 600 vehicles produced for use in EV trials in many different markets around the world.
They will be based around Melbourne, with one stationed at the Coburg Civic Centre, which has a “hub” of three charge points, including Australia’s first publicly-accessible fast-charge outlet.
The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) Prius will be available for use by council staff during the day and by the public at night and at weekends.
GoGet co-founder Bruce Jeffreys said he believed GoGet was becoming a launch platform for new vehicles as it was an ideal way to present a new model to a market of 33,000 drivers.
“We went to Toyota and said use us as a platform,” he said after the launch.
“We’ll put them on the fleet, we’ll work together to get them legal, on the road, and car-sharing can be the entry point for new technologies.”“You could give a car to one person and see what they think. But give it to GoGet and you can get all this feedback from the members,” Mr Jeffreys said.
Mr Jeffreys said GoGet was in constant contact with its members.
“We survey them, hold events with them, ask them how it’s going. Sometimes we ring them to see how it’s going.
“When we first put electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, our general manager rang them after every trip.
“It’s a great little way to get innovative vehicles on the road.”
The other advantage of using GoGet was that the opinions would be coming from non-committed people, people who do not do business with Toyota.
“They’re real people, not necessarily friends of Toyota, just people like the fleet guys at Moreland, people who aren’t heavily into cars, who just need to get around.
“That’s the critical thing, because that’s the mainstream.”
Mr Jeffreys said GoGet had been running EVs for three years now and there was no apparent resistance from drivers.
“They like the ease of driving, and the quietness,” he said.
There was a downside, too.
“I think for some people plugging in to charge is a bit of a hassle compared to a normal car. I think there is more refinement needed around the charging.
“It’s also an habitual thing. We used to tether a horse to a pole outside the pub. That took a bit of time, too.”
However, the data from GoGet cars indicates that drivers are not yet comfortable with the official range estimates for EVs.
“What’s interesting is that, when you look at the trips drivers do in the EVs versus the petrol cars, it’s quite a lot lower, even though the EV had the range for that trip.
“So we think the PHEV will be the perfect solution.”
The launch of the GoGet service with the PHEV Prius in Moreland marked the tenth anniversary of the GoGet company, Mr Jeffreys said.
“To be honest, I have to pinch myself because this is surreal to me.
“Ten years ago me and Nick Lowe, the two co-founders of GoGet, sat in the cafeteria at Toyota with a great bloke called Dick Johnson and said we have this idea: we think Australians will share cars instead of owning cars.”“He didn’t think so, but Toyota backed us anyway.”
Ten years down the track and GoGet now has 1100 cars and 33,000 members across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
“It’s an amazing achievement and Toyota was there from the start with the launch of the first car-share program,” Mr Jeffreys said.
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