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Cohesive Mobility Solution (COMOS) is set to launch its electric vehicle (EV) sharing programme next month, and ahead of that, it has opened membership registration to the public. The scheme is the first of its kind in the region.

COMOS is giving 100 lucky members the chance to enjoy unlimited usage of the car-sharing services during the trial period, which is between the date of the programme’s launch in October and the end of the year. After that, full deployment will take place.

What has been achieved so far since the ‘soft launch‘ in June? Well, the Renault Zoe and Renault Twizy, both of which are not on sale for the Malaysian public, have been approved by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

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According to COMOS executive chairman and ex-Proton MD Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin, JPJ has decided that you need a car licence to drive the Twizy, which effectively classifies it as a car and not a motorcycle. You wouldn’t be allowed to take it on the PLUS Highway, apparently – most likely for safety reasons, as it wouldn’t be able to reach highway speeds.

To date, 46 Renault Zoes have arrived in Malaysia for COMOS, and 30 Renault Twizys are set to land in November. Nissan Leaf? Next year. 60 Klang Valley locations have been identified for charging stations, and at 15 of these, work has already begun.

By 2017, the aim is to have the service running in Langkawi, Penang, Melaka and Johor Bahru, with rapid charging stations located at every rest stop along the North-South Highway.

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Branding agreements have been signed with Petronas, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Celcom. COMOS is working with UTM to develop and commercialise hydrogen charging systems for EVs, and Celcom will provide the payment gateway and vehicle connectivity.

COMOS also shared tentative pricing with members of the media at a recent briefing – membership fees of RM300 annually or RM50 monthly, along with RM20-25 per hour of usage.

It’s not just about private users – COMOS is also offering corporate leasing packages, which include unlimited mileage, periodical maintenance and a wall-mounted charger at the customer’s location.

There’re also advertising packages, which give you three free membership cards for one year. Both packages will include customers’ logos on the cars, and both are eligible for corporate double tax deduction.

Through the leasing package, COMOS claims to offer savings, over three years, of nearly RM30,000 for a Renault Zoe against a Honda Civic, and RM33,000 for a Nissan Leaf over a Honda Accord. These are based on tentative monthly lease prices of RM4,450 for the Zoe and RM5,300 for the Leaf.

EV tourism is also in the plans, under the COMOS EcoRide moniker. Tourists will be able to rent Twizys from hotels and tourist centres, and use them to explore, with navigation and voice-guided tours thrown in. The concept is planned for Langkawi, Putrajaya and KL. DBKL is also apparently interested in using the Twizy for patrolling purposes, Syed Zainal said.

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With all said and done, I had a short spin in the COMOS Renault Zoe. It was late afternoon and the office crowd was taking to the roads in Mutiara Damansara in full force, which meant I could only have a quick fling around The Curve’s inner road.

Simple – all you had to do was touch the RFID membership card on a scanner located behind the windscreen’s bottom-right, a green light would flash and the car would unlock automatically.

You then get in, enter a six-digit PIN into a little machine on the windscreen’s top-right, answer some rudimentary questions (Do you possess a valid driving licence? Are there any damages to the vehicle?), press the start button (car key already in the slot) and you’re good to go.

Not much to be gleaned from the test drive (I drove it for all of ten minutes), safe for everything you’d expect – a good dose of instantaneous, low-down torque, along with whisper-quiet progress.

Low-speed brake pedal action took some getting used to – nothing much in the first few centimetres of travel, and then a lot of retardation thereafter. The brakes are regenerative, of course. The steering seemed to be devoid of any feel, feedback or weight, but ride comfort wasn’t bad.

Still, as much as we seem to love placing electric cars on an out-of-reach, out-of-reality pedestal, the Zoe drives very much like a… well, car. I eagerly await a second date for further inspection!