(TNS) – If you’re curious about switching to an electric car but don’t want to commit to buying an electric car, there’s a new option in Indianapolis.
Motor Drive, a monthly subscription service, puts you behind the wheel of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Audi e-tron, and Tesla Model X.
There are three subscription tiers ranging from $ 649 per month to $ 1,399 per month. These monthly fees include insurance and routine maintenance. Membership is also required for the service, which is priced at $ 400 upfront. If you like the car enough to buy one, the company will give you that $ 400 for the purchase price.
That’s because Motor, the company behind the service, wants to introduce people to electric vehicles and their benefits. Mike Barg, director of strategy and business development, said 70% of people have never been in an electric car.
“The whole goal is to give people the experience of an electric car for as long as they want,” said Barg. He said the service gives drivers the opportunity to test top-of-the-line electric cars while maintaining flexibility. Unlike many leasing contracts, the subscription service doesn’t require a long commitment or mileage limit.
Motor is owned by AES Corporation, which also includes Indianapolis Power & Light Co., but those local roots weren’t the only reason the service was introduced here.
“Indianapolis is an auto market like no other,” said Barg. “People here own and drive cars, and per capita car ownership per household is usually higher. Cars are an integral part of the city.”
About a dozen people have signed up for Motor Drive in the week since it was launched, Barg said. A few dozen more are on a waiting list while Motor navigates what Barg calls “the interesting dynamics of car supply and demand in the US.”
“We’re doing everything we can to get everyone on this waiting list interested,” he said.
How Motor Drive differs from BlueIndy
The service comes to Indianapolis a few months after an electric car sharing program is discontinued. BlueIndy shut down on May 21st after users were able to rent and return cars at every station in the city for four years.
BlueIndy had a different pricing model: one-time users could pay $ 8 for 20 minutes and 40 cents for every additional minute. Users can also buy an annual membership that costs $ 9.99 per month plus $ 4 for 20 minutes and 20 cents for every additional minute.
The defunct service said in a December press release that 11,000 members had made approximately 180,000 trips over the four years. In a December email to members, BlueIndy said it “has not reached the level of activity required to be economically viable”.
Barg and Praveen Kathpal, vice president of new business at Motor’s parent company, said Motor Drive is very different from BlueIndy.
“It’s a radically different experience for probably a completely different customer than BlueIndy,” said Kathpal.
The only overlap is that the two services were both in Indianapolis and both delivered electric cars, Barg said.
“Motor Drive offers a bespoke experience with more powerful electric cars that are not the little BlueIndy cars,” said Barg. “It’s makes and models that ultimately feel a lot like the car you drive today.”
This is how Motor Drive works
Drivers who wish to join the waiting list must provide their name, email address, zip code and the desired membership level. You must be at least 25 years old.
The service is currently only available in Indianapolis. Barg and Kathpal said Motor had no immediate expansion plans.
When it’s time to buy a car, you’ll receive an invitation to download an app and choose your car. The company will then deliver the car to you.
“We drop the car and it’s like you own a car in the sense that you have the keys, it’s yours, you park it at home wherever you want – full access to it,” Barg said. “The goal is just to get used to the lifestyle.”
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Perhaps the biggest lifestyle change is to remember to plug your car in instead of going to a gas station.
The service offers a range of more than 220 miles for a fee for each vehicle. Vehicles come with chargers that plug into a standard socket.
Motor will install a quick charger in your home if you agree to continue the subscription for 120 days. Otherwise, the subscription is month-to-month with a week’s notice required.
For someone who drives about 40 miles a day, the vehicle will likely get fully charged overnight. The faster charger could deliver a full charge in just over an hour.
“It goes from something that you have to actively think about: ‘My gasoline is low; I have to go to the gas station in two days when it’s empty’ to ‘I plug it in like my cell phone every night.’ It becomes part of your daily habit and you wake up fully charged, “said Barg.
The subscription fee covers routine maintenance required to keep the car running, including tires. Barg said the company’s support team was there to help with small things like finding a specific button for bigger things like planning a trip while planning out charging stations along the way.
The vehicles are intended for personal use and should therefore not be used by people who drive for work, such as Uber or Lyft, or delivery drivers. Barg said they hope this will change in the future.
There’s no mileage limit, so you can get a motor-driven car on this summer road trip to the Grand Canyon.
“Yes,” said Barg, “and if you did we would encourage you to take pictures and share them with us.”
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