Poland isn’t always a bastion for cleantech leadership and urban innovation — the national government recently took a bat to the knees of the competitive wind industry and a nascent solar industry was stabbed in both feet a couple years ago — but city planners in Wrocław, Kraków, and other cities seem to be adept at implementing cutting-edge solutions that make city life better — much better than in most US cities I’ve visited or lived in.
As you may have read, I’m planning to get an electric carsharing startup going in Poland. Originally, I was just going to partner with a Nissan LEAF owner who also has a small solar installation company and a much larger courier company here in Poland. Now, I’m partnering with him, a former Polish utility exec, and one of my favorite people in history (who will also be organizing Cleantech Revolution Tour conferences in Poland, and is heading up just-launched CleanTechnica.pl).
I was eager to launch electric carsharing in the cool city where I live — Wrocław — but then that last person (director of CleanTechnica.pl Jacek Fior) found out that … Wrocław city government put out an RfP last year for an experienced electric carsharing company to launch just such a program, with 200 electric cars to start.
Wowza! Great to hear, and may well kill our plans for Wrocław, but great to hear. Also, despite Wrocław leadership in other areas, this was a bit of a shocker (even though I did find out that we have a lot of free EV charging stations in the city — presumably subsidized in part by the local government). The program is supposed to launch in a couple of months.
But the news didn’t stop there. More recently, Poland’s #1 tourist city — Kraków (aka Cracow) — decided to launch essentially the same thing. Again, it will reportedly start with 200 electric cars. (I have a feeling some frisky city planners had a chat.) I’m not sure when the Kraków one is supposed to launch, but it seems to be similar timing, if a bit behind Wrocław.
Which electric carsharing company will implement these programs? That’s the question. Some options include Car2Go (which would use electric Smart Cars), DriveNow (which would use BMW i3s), Autolib’ (which would use the Bollore Bluecar), Zipcar (which could use anything), and “Zachary Shahan & Co. EV Sharing” (just kidding — on the name and possibility).
But the news still isn’t over…. A startup called SharCar is planning to launch its own electric carsharing program in 7 Polish cities! The cities are Poznan, Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, Tricity (which, technically, is more than one city — but it’s one metro area), and Łódź. Hmm….
At the very least, it seems my thought that Wrocław is an ideal city for electric carsharing wasn’t a lonely idea only dreamt up in the head of an eccentric American. Whether all of these systems get off the ground and how they do is still up in the air. Whether my cleantech buddies and I get ours off the ground is the matter of most interest to me :D, but I’m just excited to see this happening, and we’re doing what we can to create the most attractive system in the meantime.
I’ll keep you posted. You can be sure we’re watching the news closely!
Photo of Quriers.pl Nissan LEAF by me (Zach Shahan).