Yes! We tested self-service electric cars in Strasbourg

Launched in 2015 by Strasbourg cooperative Citiz, Yea! is a car-sharing service that allows you to rent a car without reservation and then drop it off anywhere within a given perimeter. In early May, four electric city cars joined the self-service fleet. Since I do not have a car and I still would like some fresh air Strasbourg, I decided to test the concept … And to share my experience with you!

Strasbourg is a city where it is easy to get around by bike or public transport. But sometimes, for a move, a quick trip, an escape 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 subscription. Others borrow from friends. But it is also possible to rent one, thanks to Citiz.

This collective interest group (SCIC) was founded in 2002 and promotes car sharing. This system reduces the number of parked cars in urban areas – which means more bike racks for cyclists or more places on the patio, depending on where you are – as it is estimated that one car will replace nine private cars. It also allows reduce polluting emissions by changing drivers’ behaviorwho learn to be less dependent on their vehicle and to favor other means of transport.

© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

Before you drive, sign up

Citiz now has two services: the classic Citiz, blue and white, in all sizes, distributed at stations and only usable when booking. And Yea !, self-driving red and white city cars, parked all over the area from Neudorf to Bisheim and from Cronenbourg to the Conseil des XV. A fleet of about sixty cars, which has had four electric cars since early May. But how exactly does it work?

It all starts with registration. A single registration that allows you to use either 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., as well as items 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 with the said driver’s license next to my head. Wouldn’t it be easier to register using the Citiz app? I interrupt myself to download it and actually continue easier, having the option to upload the dematerialized version of the parts or take a picture of them from the app.

In the next step, I discover that the registration has been charged – because I have not read the presentation page thoroughly enough. 40 euros for normal fare, 20 euros for jobseekers, those under 27, subscribers to public transport, Vélhop, Vélocation, Locacycles, holders of the Badgéo card, Le Pass and SNCF card, members of CADR67 and CADR68, Bretz’selle, Ircos-Cezam and Hiero Federation. It’s crowded. These costs cover in particular the validation of the registration, which is carried out manually, for a maximum of two working days. Better not to register at the last minute in hopes of running to the car right after.

A 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 deposit and allows me to pay along the way by credit card. Okay, but how are you doing after those three months? I was confused about the registration fees, but prefer to be careful on the subscription side, for who has never found themselves subscribing to anything to forget to end an offer at the end of the trial period? It takes a bit of searching on the page, 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 to choose the ‘Without Subscription’ formula, depending on which one seems to him to be the most suitable for his use.” No unpleasant surprises in sight. This would also benefit from being shown more clearly, e.g. upon registration!

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

Unlock, start!

My registration validated, I take advantage of an afternoon off to plan a walk along Ill at La Wantzenau. And as long as I do, I also take the opportunity to pick up things that are just big enough not to want to lug them around by bike 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 various cars around my home, giving me information about the model and the amount of remaining fuel. I choose an electric Renault Zoé with 47% battery and spare. 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, time to prepare and get on the road, for example. This can take up to 24 hours before use.

Then fix the car. I automatically note that the windshield was christened by storks from the Orangery. Should this be stated when assessing the purity of the vehicle? No, not necessarily, confirms the Citiz Grand Est agency at the end of my rental. I then drag the app out to unlock the car doors. A voice resounds in the cabin to give me the procedure I need to follow: Open the glove compartment to take the box, write my user PIN, note the cleanliness of the car and remove the keys from the box. Slightly lost, I take time to execute myself while the voice renews its message. The scene has something futuristic: here I am in 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 application.

I press the keys located in the storage compartment on the brake and the start button, because it is an automatic gearbox – like all electric cars from Yea! And off we go a 20-minute drive towards Wantzenau. An extremely quiet ride that electric motor requires. It’s not uncomfortable. If I’m a little apprehensive the first few minutes, it does not take long before I forget that I’m driving a rental car, as handling is so easy, even for me, who usually drives with manual transmission. On the other hand, I look with a little concern at the vehicle’s target – reflex from someone who is used to recharging his phone when it drops below 50%. If braking allows the system to be recharged slightly, the battery will slowly discharge. I arrive at the edge of the Disease with 37% autonomy. No special procedure here, I take the keys and lock the vehicle before going for a walk.

© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

Park and recharge effortlessly

Back I open again with the keys to get behind the wheel. This time, a little fixed lane awaits me, but it goes just as well as the traffic in urban areas. Except that the battery necessarily needs to be discharged a little faster. Arriving at La Meinau, loading my things, returning home. And for once, there’s no need to look for a free parking space or pay attention to the tariff zone where I am. I can park at the bottom of my house since I’re in the perimeter Yea! I put the key back in its case, check that I have not forgotten anything and indicate on the application that I have finished my rental and by locking the doors.

© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

And drunk then? A card is attached to the box to go to an electrical terminal, but Citiz does not commit its users to Yea! to recharge them after use. If the car runs below 20% battery, it is removed from reservations while a technician takes it to the nearest recharge. Another good point for this service: Yes! is quite short, we can understand that users do not want to spend 1 hour and 10 minutes at the terminal (charging time for an electric Zoé in accelerated charging, 30 minutes in ultra-fast charging, still underdeveloped in Strasbourg.) Electricity is currently being experimented with for Yea !, and Citiz is looking for its model: Call technicians for recharging, or let the customer do it by counting down the charging time for the rental. SCIC is currently leveraging the 70 electrical terminals installed in Eurometropolis to usher in a global transition of its Yea! to electric.

Evaluation of the experience: quite positive! The vehicle is particularly suitable for city driving, and it is a big plus to be able to park anywhere. For example, if I had a car that was only used to drive around the city or within Eurometropolis, I think I could resell it and be tempted by this service. The fact that petrol and insurance are included in the rent makes the offer attractive, especially at the moment with a price at the pump that flirts with 2 euros per. The service is also easy to use. The proof, less than 24 hours after returning the car, it had already left my street. In short, a car-sharing solution that is both simple, environmentally friendly and economically accessible, which offers a great alternative to the private car!


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© Annika Lenze / Pokaa

* The article is supported but not reviewed by Citiz.

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