Yea! We test self-service electric cars in Strasbourg

Launched in 2015 by the Strasbourg-based Citiz cooperative, Yea! is a car-sharing service that allows you to rent a car without a reservation and leave it anywhere within a certain perimeter. In early May, four electric city cars joined the self-service fleet. As I don’t have a car and still wanted to get some fresh air Strasbourg, I decided to test the concept… And share my experience with you!

Strasbourg is a city where it is easy to get around by bicycle or public transport. But sometimes, for a change, a quick trip, a getaway in the Vosges, it happens that you need a car. Some have one that sleeps in a free parking area or for which they pay a resident’s subscription. Others borrow from friends. But it is also possible to rent one, thanks to Citiz.

Founded in 2002, this cooperative society of collective interest (SCIC) promotes car sharing. This system reduces the number of cars parked in urban areas – which means more bike racks for cyclists or more terrace seating depending on where you are – since it is estimated that one shared car replaces nine private cars. It also allows reduce pollutant emissions by modifying the behavior of driverswho learn to be less dependent on their vehicle and to favor other means of transport.

© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

Before driving, you must register

Citiz now has two services: the classic Citiz, blue and white, of all sizes, distributed at stations and usable by reservation only. And Yea!, red and white self-service city cars, parked throughout the area from Neudorf to Bischeim and from Cronenbourg to the Conseil des XV. A fleet of about sixty cars, which has four electric vehicles since the beginning of May. But how does this work exactly?

It all starts with registration. A single registration, which offers the possibility to use Citiz or Yea!. I start the procedure on the Citiz website: I am asked to enter a certain amount of personal information – name, address, etc., in addition to elements that appear on my driver’s license. The site also asks for ID, proof of address less than three months old, my driver’s license and a picture of me holding it next to my head. Wouldn’t it be easier to register through the Citiz app? I stop to download it and continue in fact more easily, having the possibility to upload the dematerialized version of the pieces or take a photo of them from the application.

In the next step, I find that the application is charged – because I didn’t read the introduction page carefully enough. 40 euros at the normal rate, 20 euros for jobseekers, under 27, subscribers to public transport, Vélhop, Vélocation, Locacycles, holders of Badgéo, Le Pass and SNCF cards, CADR67 and CADR68 members, Bretz’selle, Ircos -Cezam and the Hiero Federation. It’s full. These costs include, in particular, the validation of the registration, carried out manually, within a maximum period of two working days. Best not to register at the last minute expecting to run to the car soon after.

One registration for 3 months, fuel and insurance included

My online registration allows me to test the Citiz subscription formula for three months. This saves me a security deposit and allows me to pay on the way, by credit card. Okay, but how’s it going after three months? I was confused by the subscription fees, but I prefer to be careful on the subscription side, because who has never subscribed to something for forgetting to close an offer at the end of the trial period? It takes a little bit of searching the site, but I finally found the information: “At the end of these 3 free months, the user can choose to keep the “With Subscription” formula or opt for the “Without Subscription” formula, depending on which one seems most appropriate for their use. » No nasty surprises in sight. This would also benefit from being displayed more clearly, at the time of registration for example!

If you wish to continue after this trial period, the subscription increases to 16 euros per month. Lets you rent a Citiz S (small size) or a Yea! at 2.50 euros per hour and 0.39 euros per kilometer. For yes! 2.50 euros of support is added to each new rental. Without a subscription, prices are 5 euros per hour (plus 0.39 euros per kilometer). And, important detail: fuel and insurance are included in the rent.

Unlock, get started!

With my application validated, I take advantage of an afternoon off to plan a tour of the Ill in La Wantzenau. And while I do, I also take the opportunity to grab things that are bulky enough that I don’t want to drag them by bicycle or tram to a friend’s house in La Meinau. I live between Contades and Orangerie and the Citiz application allows me to geolocate the different cars in my house, giving me information about the model and the amount of fuel remaining. I opt for an electric Renault Zoé with 47% battery and reserve. This is a practical aspect of Yea! : if the offer was designed to be able to borrow a car on a whim, it still allows you to make a small reservation, when getting ready and taking the road, for example. This can go up to 24 hours before use.

Drive the car then. I automatically notice that the windshield has been named after Orangerie storks. Should it be declared when evaluating the cleanliness of the vehicle? No, not necessarily, confirms Citiz Grand Est agency at the end of my rental. Then I pull up the app to unlock the vehicle’s doors. A voice resounds in the passenger compartment to give me the procedure to follow: I open the glove compartment to get the box, enter my user PIN code, observe the cleaning of the car and remove the keys from the box. A little lost, it takes time to execute myself as the voice renews its message. The scene has something futuristic about it: here I am on an episode of K 2000 to negotiate with KIIT. However, you end up telling me that it is possible to end this voice guidance by disabling beginner mode in the app.

The keys placed in the storage compartment, I press the brake and the start button, because it is an automatic gearbox – like all Yea electric cars! And off we go for a 20-minute drive towards Wantzenau. An extremely silent journey requires an electric motor. It’s not unpleasant. If I’m a little apprehensive in the first few minutes, it doesn’t take long for me to forget that I’m driving a rental car, because the handling is very easy, even for me who usually drives with a manual gearbox. On the other hand, I look with a little concern at the vehicle’s gauge – a reflection of someone who is used to recharging their cell phone when it’s below 50%. If braking allows the system to recharge slightly, the battery will slowly discharge. I reach the edge of Evil with 37% autonomy. No specific procedure here, I take the keys and lock the vehicle before going for a drive.

© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

Park and recharge smoothly

Back, I open it again with the keys to get behind the wheel. This time a bit of fast lane awaits me, but it goes just as well as traffic in urban areas. Except the battery necessarily drains a little faster. Arrival at La Meinau, carrying my things, heading home. And for once, there’s no need to look for a free parking space or pay attention to the tariff zone I’m in. I can park in the back of my house since I’m on the perimeter Yes! I put the key back in its case, make sure I haven’t forgotten anything, and indicate on the form that I’ve finished my lease and locked the doors.

© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

And then full? A card is attached to the box to go to an electrical terminal, but Citiz does not oblige its Yea! to recharge them at the end of use. If the car has less than 20% battery, it is taken from the reserves, while a technician takes it to the nearest recharge. Another positive point for this service: Yes! being quite short, we can understand that users do not want to spend 1 hour and 10 minutes in the terminal (charging time of an electric Zoé in accelerated charging, 30 minutes in ultra-fast charging, still not very developed in Strasbourg). Electricity is being experimented with for Yea!, and Citiz is looking for its model: call the technicians to recharge, or let it be done by the customer counting the rental recharge time. SCIC is currently taking advantage of the 70 electrical terminals being deployed in Eurometropolis to start a global transition of its Yea! to electric.

Experience rating: very positive! The vehicle is particularly suitable for city driving and being able to park anywhere is a real advantage. If, for example, I had a car that was only used to drive around the city or within the Eurometropolis, I think I could resell it and let me try for that service. The fact that petrol and insurance are included in the rental makes the offer attractive, especially at the moment with a price at the pump flirting with 2 euros per litre. The service is also easy to use. The proof, less than 24 hours after returning the car, had already left my street. In short, a simple car-sharing solution, eco-friendly and affordable, which offers a great alternative to the private car!


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© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

*Article supported, but not reviewed by Citiz.

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