HOURCARS, a solar powered plug-in hybrid rental service has opened up in St. Paul Minnesota. The cars are avaiable at hourly rates which include the costs of gas, maintenance and insurance.
HOURCARS is a car-sharing initiative, allowing city residents to 'share' a car. Each member of the group can reserve the vehicle up to 3 months in advance. Each car has a car-sharing computer and a solar-powered recharging system/recharging station.
HOURCARs are part of a program of the nonprofit Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC), whose mission is to "reduce pollution, conserve resources and improve quality of life by offering tools for energy-efficient living."
The plug-in HOURCAR is a stock Toyota Prius with a rather major modification: under the cargo area behind the rear seat is a 5 kilowatt-hour battery. This battery is charged via any normal, 120 volt electrical outlet—the car can be plugged in anywhere. The battery pack is a Hymotion L5 Lithium Ion Battery, manufactured by A123 Systems. It holds enough power for twenty-five to forty miles of carbon-free driving.