Miocar, a carsharing service that was first introduced in Kern County in 2019, will be making its way back into the Kern County area after being disbanded due to issues.
The carsharing service was located in various Lamont, Arvin, and Wasco communities and provided these communities with transit benefits by allowing them to quickly rent electric vehicles for short periods of time through their smartphone app or web browser.
“Our initial deployment in Kern County and Tulare was a pilot project funded by CARB and when that grant ended, although we wanted to continue the continuity in the Tulare and Kern area, we were operating with no funding,” explained Rachel Heckl, who works with expansion and grant-writing for Miocar.
Miocar, at that time, had just been incorporated into an independent nonprofit organization and needed to pile all its resources into a number of organizations as it launched its pilot program. The grant provided by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was meant to provide an affordable transportation option to residents who don’t have easy access to transportation.
Without the funding, and with recalls being announced on the Chevy Bolt — which made up the bulk of Miocar’s fleets — the organization had to pull out the majority of its fleets in the Kern County and Tulare area.
With the approval of some new grants, Miocar is looking to make its move back into both Tulare and Kern County, with plans to set their fleets back up and also expand into new areas of Shafter and possibly Bakersfield.
Fernando Gonzelez, a Fleet Manager with Miocar who works directly with members and their applications, explained the application process during an interview with Kern Sol News. After submitting an application, Miocar checks DMV records for red flags and, upon finding none, members are approved and permitted to rent vehicles for either $4 an hour or $35 for the entire day, with a 150-mile limit. Any driving done past the 150-mile limit will cost 35 cents per mile.
Gonzalez explained that some things that get flagged with a DMV record that’ll lead to denial are multiple tickets in a short time and DUIs.
“We give them training on how to use the vehicles and explain all the things that we provide,” Gonzalez stated. “We provide a free charging card, we give them guidance on how to use the chargers and how to charge their vehicles.”
Gonzalez also went on to explain that recently, the organization has been speaking with community members at the Bakersfield Senior Center. The hope is to collaborate with the Bakersfield Senior Center and add additional services to the building following its new remodeling. Miocar has also been working with people at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park and the Friendship House.
“From what I’ve heard talking to community members, they say that Miocar will help cover certain gaps in transportation. Some of these community members only use the bus and sometimes there’s a delay, which can leave older people in the heat. With our services, they can create their schedule and go out and come back as they need,” said Gonzalez.
Miocar will be available to anyone over 21 years of age with a valid driver’s license from one of the 50 accepted states, a relatively clean driving record, and a valid credit, debit, or bank card.
The organization plans to use some of the same locations in Kern County that they utilized in the past, but they also plan to send some fleets to new locations as they install the infrastructure for the charging stations.
“The Shafter deployment is all new. We’re going to put the chargers in and then deploy,” Heckl commented.
Miocar hopes to be running and operational in Kern County within the next year.