Photo courtesy of Contra Costa County

Photo courtesy of Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County's (Calif.) Fleet Services department has entered into an agreement to use Local Motion by Zipcar to help expand motor pool use and better manage its growing fleet of pooled plug-in electric vehicles. Zipcar, which acquired car sharing technology company Local Motion last year and last week announced the new Local Motion by Zipcar product, is providing an online platform, in-vehicle hardware, and a mobile app to manage 30 of the county’s pool vehicles.

The 30 motor pool vehicles that will have the system include 13 recently acquired electric vehicles — 10 Nissan Leafs and three Ford Fusion Energi vehicles, said Fleet Manager Carlos Velasquez.

A motor pool driver using Local Motion by Zipcar can reserve a vehicle online, then tap their existing RFID ID badge on the vehicle’s windshield to open the doors. At the end of the ride, another tap allows them to check the vehicle in, and they get an e-mail reminding them to plug in the vehicle.

An app also allows users to can see how much range an electric vehicle has left and when it’s available, as well as when they can pick it up.

The system also quickly tells users how much fuel they saved that day when driving an electric vehicle. The system provides GPS monitoring, tracks the drive, and can produce reports that will allow fleet staff to reduce motor pool sites and to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, underutilized units.

The online web-based system also eliminates the use of the county’s laborious paper logs and spreadsheets to track unit charges and daily usage. Velasquez, who help set up the program at the county, said there are no upfront investments in key managers or vehicle hardware.