The first step towards a future where residents of large Brazilian cities can use their smartphones to plan itineraries with shared cars will be taken in Recife. The Pernambucan capital will be the first city in the country to implement a system of rental cars, taking after the bicycle (system), for short to medium distance trips. The service will get off the ground thanks to the PortoLeve project and should begin in May. Until then, Porto Digital, who is behind it all, will be doing cost and route studies that will define the usage time of the vehicles and the daily or monthly cost to be paid by users.
Initially, the objective was to place electric cars on the streets for the population to use. Since the electric car still has no specific legislation behind it for circulating on the roads of large cities, nor is it offered by dealers in the country, Porto Digital opted to start the project with vehicles powered by gas and alcohol. The idea is to migrate to electric cars in the second semester of this year, when the rules governing the use of such vehicles in Brazil are defined. There will be three Fiat 500 cars available for sharing. The color of the cars still hasn’t been defined (their article probably needs correcting since I located the image above), but they’ll carry the visual identity of PortoLeve, used with the bicycle rental project. Each vehicle is going to transport up to 4 people.
“We should change over to the electric Fiat 500 project by the year’s end”, informed the director of Inovation and Competitive Edge of Porto Digital, Guilherme Calheiros. The cars were lent (at no charge) by Fiat. The project resources come from the state government and from the Ministry of Science & Technology. “The system’s budget is still being discussed, that’s why we don’t know the price that will be paid by the user. Beyond this, we are doing studies to define the usage time for each car, which should vary between 30 and 60 minutes”, completed the project manager of Porto Digital, Cidinha Gouveia. In the case that this time is exceeded, an additional fee will be charged to the user for each half-hour extra.
The cars will be able to be taken out from, and returned to, six stations: in front of C.E.S.A.R., near the Porto Digital building, in the neighborhood of Recife; at the Central Station of Recife, in the neighborhood of São José, at Capitão Lima street, in Santo Amaro and at the RioMar and Tacaruna malls. “The logic for renting will be the same as with the bikes. As it’s brand new in the country, we’ll test to see if the car system is viable and if it will be well-assimilated by the population”, Calheiros pointed out. According to him, the expectation is to attract 200 users in the initial phase.
Adept at bike sharing, the systems engineer Henrique Foresti, 36, is waiting for the project to be launched. “One of the biggest mobility problems in Recife is the quantity of cars with only one person in them. I believe that this service will be positive.” With time, the Recife model could be “exported” to other Brazilian cities. “The objective is to lower the number of cars on the streets, principally in the neighborhood of Recife”, stressed Calheiros. – DP (in PT)