Imagine going on a  vacation to London, or Paris. You've just got over the jet-lag and are feeling like exploring the city.  You've done all the usual tourist activities and have some friends on the other side of town to visit. Do you navigate a strange subway system, take a taxi, or make your own way?

If driving yourself sounds like a fun and you've yet to sit behind the wheel of an electric car how about combining both in the ultimate union between vacation rental and EV test-drive?

It may sound like a distant dream, but schemes now launched in London and Paris give visitors to the city a chance to drive electric.

One hotel is even offering four hours of complimentary EV hire with every room booking.

Base2Stay, a chain of U.K. boutique and budget hotels has just launched a summer special offer at its Kensington Hotel, situated in the west-end of London.  Customers staying at the west-end hotel will be offered up to four hours of free electric car hire to explore the greater London area. From October 1, the cost of hiring an electric car through the hotel will cost $6 per hour.

The scheme is a joint partnership between the hotel chain and Move About, a European electric-vehicle hire firm which was founded in Oslo in 2006.

But the car on offer isn't a factory-built EV. It's a professionally converted car called the EV'ie,  based on the A segment 2010 Citroen C1 city car.

A little larger than the 2010 Smart Car, it comfortably seats two up front, plus two smaller passengers in the back. It's certainly no 2011 Nissan Leaf or 2011 Chevrolet Volt, but will comfortably hold its own on the highway and can travel up to 75 miles per charge.

Base2Stay's CEO, Robert Nadler, said the scheme will provide a unique service to guests at the hotel while also giving customers who may never have driven an electric car the chance to test-drive an EV.



This scheme isn't an isolated one. In Paris, some 3,000 EVs will be introduced by September 2011 as part of a giant car share scheme.  Visitors and residents in the City will be able to hire an EV in a ‘pay-as-you-drive' model similar to the 'pay-as-you-ride' hire bicycle schemes found in major European cities. Each vehicle's health will be remotely monitored and charging will take place on return of a vehicle to designated bays throughout the city.

We've already discussed what benefits electric rental cars  will have in Hawaii to both local residents and holidaymakers, and similar schemes world-wide are bound to have similar effects. While driving in a strange place is not everyone's cup of tea, the driving experience of a half-day's electric rental has to be better than the current test-drives currently on offer - which generally consist of a few laps around a test track or a half-hour trip around town with a salesperson.

Roll on worldwide EV rental - it could open up EVs to a whole new set of consumers.

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