Sparking the ignition on electric carshare program

Wildsight seeks sponsorship for EV carshare program ‘Spark’

Wildsight Invermere is getting closer to reality for an electric carshare program, dubbed ‘Spark,’ for the Columbia Valley.

Since discussing the program idea with members at the AGM in April 2018, a Wildsight committee has been looking into how to make the dream a reality. The committee now has many of the details well in hand, and are just about ready to fork over the approximately $52,000 to buy a Chevy Bolt.

“We’ve done a lot of work on the fundraising side to get most of the funds we need for the carshare,” said Cam Gillies, Wildsight Invermere vice president.

Support has come in from some corporate and private donations as well as from Columbia Basin Trust, Imagine Invermere and the Regional District of East Kootenay. They have now launched a public fundraising initiative, seeking corporate and private donations through a tiered sponsorship program.

Wildsight’s plan is to have an app through which users can check on availability and book the car. Drivers will register with Spark for access to the vehicle.

The plan is for the vehicle to be parked in a central, fixed location in Invermere with its own dedicated charger, though the details have yet to be worked out. But overall, Mr. Gillies said, Wildsight is confident they are close to reality for the carshare program. There has been strong interest from the public to sign up and start using the program, Mr. Gillies reported, and they anticipate a wide range of users from people wanting a car for a couple hours, to multi-day trips for others.

“We think we have a really good model that will provide accessible transportation for people in the Columbia Valley, that will allow them to get into an electric vehicle and try it out,” said Mr. Gillies. “We’re really excited to be doing this here.”

Rental costs have not been determined yet, though Wildsight has already decided they will not have a subscription fee or monthly membership fee, to encourage more users to sign up.

Wildsight chose the Chevrolet Bolt as it has good range, it is available for purchase (an important factor given the high demand of electric vehicles in B.C.), and the five-seat vehicle makes for a “very practical car that people in the Kootenays can use,” said Mr. Gillies.

According to the Spark brochure, the cost fo the car, accessories and operating hardware / software is about $70,000. Wildsight has secured funding for the first 75 per ent of total project expenses and is now looking for the final 25 per cent to launch Spark.

To learn more about the program, see www.wildsight.ca/spark.

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