FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.–Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUMO), a carsharing service created in Fayetteville, has partnered with the City of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas to provide a more efficient approach to traveling short distances.
SUMO offers street-legal, low-speed electric vehicles (LEV’s) to licensed drivers of the community who become members of the pay-as-you-go car service.
“For the price and what they are, I think they are the perfect scale vehicle to move one or two people five minutes across downtown,” said Mikel Lolley, co-founder of SUMO.
SUMO’s vehicles are kept at GPS-located parking pods in various areas of town and on the U of A campus. These strategic parking pod locations were the result of negotiations between SUMO, the City of Fayetteville, the UA campus, and local business owners.
The parking pods are located in “relevant destinations where people want to go,” Lolley said, “like on campus south of Bell, or like Ozark natural foods or like the Fayetteville public library.”
Parking pods in the network are spread about five minutes apart, and travel between each pod costs approximately $1.50.
“The reason we set it up that way is that we really want to encourage one way trips,” Lolley said.
Parking pods act as a charging station for the LEVs and also guarantee a parking spot for SUMO members.
“To have that certainty of knowing that the parking is there completely mitigates the uncertainty of parking,” Lolley said. “It’s free, it’s certain, it’s included in part of the membership.”
The SUMO car-sharing system addresses some of the inefficiencies associated with owning a car, according to Lolley. For example, the utilization rate of cars—how often the car is used compared to how often it is not used—is typically less than five percent for individual owners. SUMO members will share access to the LEVs, maximizing the use of the electric cars.
Lolley said that he and his business partner, Bob Munger, think the future of LEV’s and the collaborative economy “is the whole new platform of sharing and generating revenue from assets that are underutilized.”
SUMO is the first electric, mechanized mobility service in the Western Hemisphere.
By Maddison Stewart, Agricultural Communications Experiential Learning Lab Reporter