Developer, EV rental firm push Finnish ‘smart city’
A COMMUNITY developer and an electric-vehicle rental company in Finland have joined forces to encourage people not to own a car, with the ultimate goal of achieving clean, smart cities with fewer cars on the roads and a carbon-neutral economy.
As consumers worldwide become conscious of the need for clean and friendly living spaces, many may find out that city dwellers do not need to own a car, which is a major source of pollution. But even if they switch to electric cars, traffic jams will remain, and the higher prices of electric cars will be burdensome.
Based on this rationale, the public and private sectors and civil society in Finland have joined forces to develop smart cities, smart living and living close to nature.
“We call our apartments a ‘living service’,” said Kimmo Ronka, chief executive officer of the Setlementtiasunnot, a community developer in Finland.
The company owns and manages 1,100 rental apartments and 400 right-of-occupancy apartments in six cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Hyvinkaa, Tampere and Kuopio.
One of the new services it offers is an electric-car sharing service, which is operated by a business partner called EkoRent.
“With a shared electric car service, we can save space and use it for another purpose instead of building larger car parking areas,” Ronka said.
At an apartment block in Helsinki’s Kalasatama district, Setlementtiasunnot provides a rental service for electric cars 24 hours a day for about 400 residents. The user takes a car from the apartment’s parking lot and returns it to the same place.
The shared-car service meets a demand of the residents, as they do not need to purchase an expensive electric car and spend lots of money on maintenance and parking costs, said Juha Suojanen, EkoRent’s chief executive officer.
The average rental fee is 6 euros (Bt230) per hour. Residents can use a smartphone app to book a car, fine out where the car is, or get an update on its battery life.
Residents seem to be happy with the car-sharing service.
Markku Nikkila, an elderly man who lives with his wife, said he rented a car once a week for a few hours and it cost him about 11-12 euros. “It is much cheaper compared with the costs stemming from owning a car – I used to own one,” he said.
Nikkila is also satisfied with the right-of-occupancy of his apartment, for which he pays only 15 per cent of the total cost of the residential unit, and when he wants to move he can sell it.
Meanwhile, Joonas Vainio, a young office worker, said he also used the shared electric-car service once a week when he wanted to go shopping at department store or supermarket.
“If I had to use a car every day, the rental service would not work for me,” he admitted. On working days, he uses a bicycle and subway train to commute to his office in the centre of the city. He said he did not need to own a car because he lived close to a subway route.
The collaboration between the housing developer and the car-rental company is part of Finland’s circular economy initiative, which aims at tackling climate change issues while at the same time promoting people’s well-being.