'Vending machine' rents electric cars hourly

Last updated 08:42 31/01/2014

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A Chinese manufacturer has unveiled a giant vending machine for cars to help combat the country's pollution problem.

Kandi Technologies developed the car-sharing system, where a commuter can borrow a fully-charged electric car from an automated garage for just over $3 an hour, The Daily Mail reportedl.

The specially-designed parking lots, or "vending machines", hold up to 300 vehicles.

At the push of a button, the cars are lowered down to members of the service and are ready to drive.

They reach a top speed of 120 kilometres per hour and one charge lasts for about 80 kilometres.

When finished, drivers drop off the rented car at the nearest station.

There are currently just two of the vending machines in Hangzhou, a city in China's southeast, but Kandi Technologies plans to open another 10 this year.

This will include expanding into the most populous cities, Beijing and Shanghai.

It also has a five-year plan to establish a public transport system across Hangzhou, involving up to 100,000 rental cars, vertical parking and charging facilities for electric vehicles.

The roll-out comes as China's premier Li Keqiang has said governments should actively promote vehicles powered by alternative energy to help control air pollution, the South China Morning Post reported earlier this week.

In September last year China announced subsidies for alternative energy vehicles.

It hopes to achieve a target of five million electric vehicles by 2020.

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