I-GO Car Sharing Launches Groundbreaking Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle Project

renderingI-GO, Chicago’s nonprofit car sharing organization, has launched a $2.5 million electric vehicle project that will add 36 all-electric vehicles to its fleet and 18 solar charging stations providing clean power to its cars. Once completed, I-GO will have the largest electric vehicle fleet in the Midwest, and it will use more solar power to charge electric vehicles than anywhere else in the country.

I-GO is today announcing the locations of 11 solar-powered charging stations throughout the Chicago region, including several JEWEL-OSCO stores, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Village of Oak Park, the City of Evanston, and Uncommon Ground restaurant. The remaining seven locations will be announced soon. The canopies will be installed in early 2012.

“I-GO is committed to being at the forefront of car sharing technology and sustainability, and providing pollution-free electric vehicles to our members is part of that commitment,” said Sharon Feigon, CEO of I-GO. “Our forward-looking public and private sector partners understand the value of clean transportation options and are working with I-GO to make them available to their customers and constituents.”

Each solar charging station will form a canopy that covers four parking spaces and will be able to power two electric vehicles. Two spaces will be reserved for I-GO at each location, and the others will be available to the public. Each canopy will be topped with 44 solar panels, for a capacity of 10 kilowatts. In aggregate, the canopies will produce about 200,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, which will power as much as 600,000 miles driven per year. As a result, I-GO and its members could save as many as 17,000 gallons of gasoline each year. The company 350Green will install the solar canopies. To see a rendering of the canopies, visit: http://www.igocars.org/2011/11/30/solar-canopies/.

“We are committed to serving our customers in the greenest way possible, and providing solar-powered electric car sharing is a fun and innovative way for us to achieve that goal,” said JEWEL-OSCO President Brian Huff.  “With I-GO and the accompanying charging stations, many of our customers who do not own cars will have a convenient way to take their groceries home, while also lowering their carbon footprint by using solar-powered electric vehicles.”

The solar canopy locations include

  • JEWEL-OSCO at 5516 N. Clark
  • JEWEL-OSCO at 5343 N. Broadway
  • JEWEL-OSCO at 101 W. 87th Street
  • JEWEL-OSCO at 438 W. Madison, Oak Park
  • City of Evanston Municipal Lot #3 at 1702 Chicago Avenue
  • City of Evanston Municipal Lot #4 at 2122 Central Street
  • City of Evanston Municipal Lot #32 at 825 Hinman Avenue
  • Village of Oak Park lot in the 1100 block of North Boulevard, between Marion and Forest
  • Village of Oak Park Village Hall at 123 Madison
  • Uncommon Ground at 1401 West Devon
  • Illinois Institute of Technology at 3201 S. State Street

I-GO’s solar-powered electric vehicle project has been made possible by grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Chicago Area Clean Cities Partnership, and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Formed in 2002, I-GO has 15,000 members and more than 200 locations in 35 neighborhoods and four suburbs throughout the Chicago region. Members pay for cars by the hour (around $8.50), and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance). A typical I-GO member spends about $2,520 per year on transportation, roughly $5,000 less than what the average American spends annually to own, operate, and maintain a car.

I-GO offers a joint smart card with the CTA that allows a seamless transfer between public transit and an I-GO vehicle. The Chicago Card Plus I-GO card is the only one of its kind in the nation. Seventy-three percent of I-GO members either sell a car or postpone a decision to buy one after joining I-GO.

In addition to saving its members money, I-GO reduces traffic congestion, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves air quality, and promotes healthy lifestyles and neighborhoods. To join I-GO, visit igocars.org.