Giant ‘vending machines’ rent electric cars

In China vehicle manufacturer Kandi Technologies Inc. is building a network of multistory automated garages in one of the world’s largest cities, where people can rent electric cars by the hour.

Customers can take the ultra-compact electric vehicles for a spin for about $3 an hour after paying with their debit or credit cards. They run for about 75 miles on a charge and reach a maximum speed of 50 mph. Drivers can drop off their rented car at another Kandi station near their destination.

Each garage holds between 30 and 300 cars. Kandi plans on making 100,000 cars available for hourly rental over the next couple of years and to expand into two other cities this year.

Of the 1.35 billion people in China, only 10% own a car. China has 2,700 bike-sharing stations — the most in the world — so people are familiar with Kandi’s concept on two wheels. As incomes have risen, more Chinese are in need of cars.

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