Zipcar, the popular car sharing network in the U.S., has announced the launch of the company’s first large-scale plug-in vehicle pilot program in Chicago. Five Chevy Volts are now available to Zipcar members, with up to 20 additional plug-in vehicles to be added into the Chicago fleet during 2012. The new Zipcar vehicles will be placed at charging pods throughout the city – including locations at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, as well as in the Loop, South Loop, River North, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Lincoln Park, and Albany Park.

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Zipcar has partnered with 350Green to install EV charging stations where the Zipcar EVs will be located. The Chevy Volts will be available for reservation by Zipcar members starting from just $10 per hour. The Volt can drive up to an EPA estimated 35 miles on electricity alone before the gas engine kicks in. Since many trips taken by Zipcar members are fewer than 35 miles, this means that the trips taken in the Volts will be powered solely by electricity rather than fuel.

“We are looking forward to providing our Chicago Zipsters with increased opportunities to reduce their environmental impact and drive some of the most technologically-advanced vehicles on the road as we roll out this EV program over the coming months,” said Charles Stephens, general manager, Zipcar Chicago.

This isn’t the first time that Zipcar has added electric vehicles to its fleet. In 2002 Zipcar added Toyota RAV4 EVs to its fleet in Boston, and in 2003 it was the first car sharing company to add hybrid vehicles in Seattle.

+ Zipcar