The car is self-driving. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

‘Now is the time’: Kootenay Carshare Cooperative sets sight on electric cars

They just got access to a Tesla Model 3

Kootenay Carshare Cooperative is going electric.

“Now is the time,” said Colleen Doyle, executive director.

The non-profit organization aims to reduce cars on the road by sharing them. Members have access to a group of cars when needed. According to their website, car sharing is a cheaper option than ownership and “better for the environment”.

It’s one of Canada’s oldest carshares and has 23 vehicles.

The cooperative has locations in Kaslo, Kimberley, Nelson, Rossland and Revelstoke.

And the one is Revelstoke just got access to a Tesla Model 3.

The vehicle’s owner, Jean-Marc LaFlamme said the main reason he bought a Tesla was for safety.

“You have to think what your life is worth.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an agency of the U.S. government, meant to reduce vehicle-related crashes, the Model 3 is one of the safest cars ever created.

READ MORE: Traffic up on Highway 1 but accidents down

LaFlamme owns the vehicle, but rents it out through Kootenay Carshare for $20 an hour for a maximum of two hours. Other cars in the cooperative can be rented for days at a time.

The idea of having a Tesla to rent is to let people see what it’s like to drive an electric car and hopefully spur them to buy one in the future. LaFlamme is on the board of directors for Kootenay Carshare Cooperative.

The car is self-driving. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

The organization is also testing peer to peer carsharing, where private car owners rent out their car. The Tesla is a part of that program.

The cooperative said this can help make new car purchases, such as Teslas, more affordable. The cars are insured through Kootenay Carshare.

Laflamme’s Tesla is also self-driving.

Some studies indicate self-driving cars can be safer than human drivers as they are more likely to obey traffic laws and speed limits. They don’t text and drive or drive drunk. They also don’t fall asleep and crash through the railing over a cliff.

However, one of Uber’s driverless cars killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year. Two years ago, General Motors Co. told California regulators its self-driving vehicles were involved in six crashes.

READ MORE: Woman struck and killed by self-driving Uber vehicle

Regardless, according to ICBC more than 80 per cent of car accidents are caused by human error. There were 350,000 crashes in B.C. in 2017, with 276 fatalities.

Every trip, LaFlamme’s car learns.

“All the Tesla’s are talking with each other and sharing data.”

Each time he drives Highway 1, LaFlamme said he notices the car handles corners better and smoother.

The car screen shows obstacles and tracks the vehicles movements. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

After having a self-driving car, he said there’s no going back.

“It’s the difference between a horse and a car.”

While the car came with a hefty price tag of $80,000, the fuel is free for the first six months. There is one Tesla charging station in Revelstoke by Best Western. After the six months, LaFlamme said it will only cost $5 per charge. From empty, the car takes one hour to recharge and travel 500 km.

It was only when LaFlamme stopped driving did he realize how much more enjoyable being in a car could be.

“Driving is a lot of work. I didn’t realize how much it takes until I let it go.”

Now, he said is freer to engage in conversation, listen to music and podcasts without being distracted by the road.

When it comes to letting the machine be in control, LaFlamme said he has no concerns.

Soon, he plans to take a road trip across the province.

“I’m looking forward to having a relationship with my car.”


 

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The car screen shows obstacles and tracks the vehicles movements. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

LaFlemme bought a Tesla Model 3 earlier this year. It can be rented hourly through Kootenay Carshare. According the LaFlemme there is only one other Tesla in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

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