Well, the folks at HOURCAR have taken Carsharing to a whole new level.
Research, such as ours, has shown that carsharing can lead to more efficient travel choices. However, HOURCAR now is pushing that efficiency to the home, by running plug-in hybrid cars in its fleet that get their charge from photovoltaic solar panels. When the cars are not in use, they contribute power BACK to the grid.
The economic ramifications of this becoming the norm boggle my mind. We now have a prototype transportation technology system that not only will greatly reduce our need for gasonline - and the gas tax revenues that go with it, but also our reliance on the power grid. How will this loss of revenue impact transportation and power utilities as we know them? (well, congestion pricing could help!)
But, for the same reasons the environmental benefits are almost equally mind-boggling.
In the coming months, we'll be adding to this conversation with a new report on HOURCAR's impact on travel behavior and auto ownership in the Twin Cities, including presentation of the findings at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in January!