The all-electric Tesla Roadster is probably the world's best advertisement for electric cars. While crude, cramped, and expensive, its 0-to-60-mph time of 3.9 seconds will make a convert out of any electric skeptic.
But thus far, Tesla Motors has built only 1,500 Roadsters, and the car was always meant to be a limited-production exercise.
How to get more people behind the wheel? Well, how about renting one?
San Francisco Bay Area startup Getaround is one of a few "social car-rental" services that allow individuals to rent cars directly from one another. This isn't car-sharing, a la Zipcar, but pure peer-to-peer renting, coordinated by ... of course ... an iPhone app.
The idea is simple: Most of the time, your car sits idle. Why not rent it to someone else for cash while you don't need it? Rather than one-to-many, whether it's Hertz or Zipcar, why not many-to-many? All that's needed is technology to coordinate the supply and demand.
(And, of course, changes to the laws that govern private car insurance, which mostly now forbids policyholders from renting out their cars for money. California has been at the forefront of such efforts.)
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Getaround showed off a Tesla Roadster Sport that it's offering for rental at $25 an hour. The owner is a Getaround member who wanted both to help promote the service and expose the joys of electric cars to a wider audience.
Our only advice? We found the Tesla Roadster's performance so addictive that we chewed through 92 indicated miles of range in just 58 road miles. So keep an eye on the range meter, and make sure the owner has time for a full recharge if you're planning to rent it for a whole day.
Probably best to do that before the rental, too ....
This isn't the only way to rent an electric car, of course. Hertz launched EV rentals in New York City last month, including the 2011 Nissan Leaf , the Smart Electric Drive, the prototype Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, and most recently the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, and other cars. It plans to roll out the program to other locations this year.
Or you can rent a Think CIty EV in the Alps, should you happen to be visiting.
But, frankly, we like the idea of renting a Tesla a lot better.