Vozilla is not Wrocław’s first car-sharing service. It isn’t second either, as Wrocław has dabbled with vehicle sharing in the past. But it’s most definitely a first all-electric car-sharing service in the city and from what I can see around town, it’s the most popular one to boot.
Vozilla uses Nissan Leafs as its vehicle of choice and is said to have two hundred cars in service around Wrocław. I first rode inside Vozilla’s Leaf about a month ago and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the seemingly small car was, and how easy it was to use the service itself. Enough so that I set up my account at Vozilla.pl and was ready to rent at a moments notice. Except that I haven’t had the need to hitch a ride since then. And even today, when I took the Leaf for a quick joy ride around town I only did it to test it out. But hey, someone left the car literally in front of my kitchen window. It’d be a shame not to give it a go.
The service works just as you would expect it to. Open the app, find the nearest car, reserve it (you have 15 minutes to get to it) or straight up hit “rent now”. Get in, press GO, and move on. With a stopwatch in hand, it took me one minute and forty-four seconds to go from opening the app to physically driving the car. I think that’s a pretty good indicator that the service works fairly well. Again, that’s 1:44 from never had used the service before to being on my way. That’s awesome. And you can leave the car anywhere within Wrocław’s city limits, which is how the car ended up right in front of my house to begin with. Someone simply dropped it off here.
Another first was me driving an all-electric vehicle that had nothing to do with my job. Having worked with electric scooters for the past many years I have ridden a lot of electric vehicles, but mostly scooters, motorcycles, or lower end prototype stuff. I’ve driven a few hybrid cars; a Volvo V40 for example that allows an all-electric mode for up to a certain speed, or a Toyota Prius. But I’ve never driven a Tesla, or a Leaf for that matter. Not too many opportunities for that in Wrocław. Until now.
Driving the Leaf felt pretty good. I don’t really understand the interior and why someone decided that 1980’s orange of the center console was a good mix with the futuristic looking blue’ish of the instrument panel. I also didn’t get at least one of the icons. I’m sure there’s a manual somewhere to explain it all, but when you’re paying per minute, there’s no time for that.
The acceleration was pretty instant, as to be expected, but braking felt rather awkward. I’m sure it had to do with regenerative braking, but it took a few stops to get used to. A heated steering wheel was a nice touch since I did rent the car while the outside temp gauge showed -2°C. The car itself felt pretty big even though it’s “just a compact”.
It also took just a split minute to figure out the gear shifter. Maybe it’s because I haven’t driven an automatic for a while, but even then the gear lever had a more standard movement to it. Keeping in mind that Wrocław is a city where automatic cars are not the standard, I can see how some may have a little trouble getting the car to reverse, for example. Or maybe I’m just getting old and the new generation will just get it instinctively.
In either case, I give the service a big thumbs up and wish it all the best in Wrocław.
As I parked the car outside my house again, opened the app and pressed “finish rental”, the car’s alarm went off. And it would keep going off for the next 20 minutes until a technician showed up to fix it after I had called the service hot-line and reported a problem. Super fast response time given it was 11pm on a Sunday evening, but it caused my neighbors to give me the stink eye for keeping them up at night with a blaring car alarm. Thus leaving my experiment on a somewhat crappy note.