Highlighting some of the many applications for small, task-oriented vehicles
Fayetteville, AK entrepreneurs with a green bent has started a low-speed vehicle based car sharing program. Mike Lolley and Robert Munger of Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUMO) recently started the business after two years of development. Currently 25 people have signed up to share SUMO’s fleet of fourteen vehicles which operate within a radius of five miles of downtown. The LSVs are reserved via text message and can be picked up at one of six locations. Lolley points to saving money and the environment as the two main reasons customers are interested in the service. The city managers see the service as increasing mobility options for residents as well and may make arrangements for SUMO to use certain public parking spaces as pick-up/drop-off locations. A typical parking space can fit three LSVs. An interesting aspect of the program is that there are no keys or fobs since the cars are started by a text message sent to the system. Rates start at $1.50 for a five minute ride and Paypal is the payment system. There is a $20 application fee. Learn more: NWAonline.com
Comment: This could be the start of a potentially large market for LSVs and a way for potential buyers to get exposed to LSVs. While there has certainly been an increasing number of LSV based taxi services and rental companies that have popped up around the country, they tend to cater to summer visitors or tourists. This type of car sharing program will attract long-term residents and therefore greatly expands the potential geographical market for LSVs beyond the typical summer vacation communities. Such programs may also provide an opportunity for Google to do some real-life testing of their self-driving LSVs.