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April 25, 2015

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Joe Downtown: Teslas on order for public use in rideshare program



A Tesla Model S is shown in the showroom at the Washington Square Mall, July 20, 2012, in Portland, Ore. Tesla Motors produces electric cars that can go from zero to 60 mph in less than six seconds, all without a drop of gasoline.

Updated Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | 12:57 p.m.

A futuristic mural in the mayor’s office of old City Hall used to depict a "Jetsons"-esque city with flying cars zipping down Fremont Street.

Flying cars aren’t here yet, but you might see many fewer gas-powered cars on the streets in large part because Downtown Project confirmed today it ordered 100 all-electric Tesla-S cars last week.

The vehicles will be part of a multimodal project designed by the Downtown Project to get people to get rid of their cars.

Bicycles and lower-end electric vehicles also will be part of the system, which is being called Project 100. When the concept was unveiled a few months ago, Zach Ware, who is leading the effort for Downtown Project, said members would get a black card used to activate the bikes or cars.

The system wouldn’t be free. As the program is rolled out, patterns of use will become more evident, potentially altering the cost. Currently, Ware said, the cost is envisioned around $400 per month for membership – roughly the cost of owning a car and paying insurance.

A mobile phone application will be incorporated to give users information on the location of a bike or car, how long it might take to get somewhere or get picked up by a shuttle bus.

In an interview published online, Ware said the program would be structured around different zones: Downtown, which is about one mile around a central point; Residential, about two miles around the Downtown zone; and the City and Outer zones, defined by areas outside of the metro area.

“We can offer ... a set of options that will get you picked up, or in a vehicle or bike to drive, within a guaranteed amount of time that’s consistent,” Ware said. “For example, you will always know that if you are in the residential zone and want to get to the Downtown zone, you can be picked up at your door within 10 minutes.”

Ware added that unlike car-share programs in other cities around the United States, this one is designed “to replace your car 100 percent of the time.”

“You have one key to your car and we wanted to build something that replaced that one key with one membership and not force you to decide each time which system was best for your need right now,” he said.

Getting Project 100 to work properly isn’t as simple as buying electric cars and bikes and creating a smartphone application. Downtown Project is working with NV Energy on necessary recharging stations but has also employed Tucson-based Local Motion, a unique car company that Ware said was working on “building hardware that taps into a car’s onboard systems and reports location, unlocks doors, handles maintenance and more.”

“Along with that they’ve built a really cool fleet management system ... “ he added. “Not only are we managing real time vehicle availability based on complex legal and supply/demand logic, but we have to know when a car needs to be charged and where it needs to go to do that.

“We have to respond to a member who needs to be picked up on the edge of the city, we need to see when a station is out of bikes and have the prediction capability to plan the optimal busy routes for party buses.”

In a video interview online, Ware summed up the the technology behind the project as “gigantic.”

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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  1. Where to begin about how horrible this idea is...

    $400 a month might be a fair price for a place like Manhattan in New York City, or a similar place. Places like that however are very few and far between.

    $400 a month gets a well-qualified buyer a nicer luxury car than Tesla can provide. For less than perfect credit, one can still get a much nicer vehicle, with two huge factors being that you don't have to share the vehicle with anyone else (no catching the flu because the last passenger sneezed all over the steering wheel and door handles). And more importantly the fact that you actually own something at the end of the term. Especially for those who choose to lease vehicles in order to obtain ultra-luxury for themselves, they still get a much, MUCH nicer and prestigious vehicle that is NOT a rental car. How does this also ease congestion or vehicle emissions if the vehicles in question have to constantly double-back in order to pick up their passengers?

    This sound less like a progressive idea to help revitalize Downtown Vegas, and more like a complex tax shelter/profit scheme. Case in point is NV Energy: They NEVER do anything for free, and are almost constantly submitting price hikes to the PUC so they don't have to part with a single penny. What's the angle on all this? I'd love to see The Sun do a nice investigative piece here on what tax credits all parties involved are receiving and how much taxpayers are going to end up footing for this project.

    I actually bought into this whole thing about Zappos caring about Downtown and wanting to revitalize it. This has really shaken my confidence in that though. This isn't about improving Downtown for Las Vegas: This is about reaping the low hanging fruit of "block busting" to buy up real estate on the cheap to create a private playground for the privileged while the rest of us foot the bill for something we'll never enjoy.

  2. Mr. Rooney,

    Tell me one thing the downtown project has done that they have asked for taxpayer money?

    Lots of negative talk for something you have no details on at all.

    Have you taken the time to go to ANY of the downtown community meetings?

  3. Mr or Mrs or Miss vegaslee,

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but at the end of day, we'll confirm if Zappo's / Downtown Project is to succeed.

    Personally, it's a great concept & "yes" I've been to a couple of meetings. One (1) word, UNBELIEVABLE!!!