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Nissan tries car sharing with tiny electric vehicles

Nissan is the latest carmaker to experiment with car sharing, although the vehicles it will deploy in a new San Francisco pilot program sort of stretch the definition of “car.”

The Japanese company will partner with Scoot Networks to launch a fleet of 10 “Nissan New Mobility Concept” electric vehicles in the Bay Area. Renamed the Scoot Quad for this program, the New Mobility Concept is only a small step up from the electric scooters already offered by Scoot Networks for short-term rentals.

The tiny Nissan is actually a Renault Twizy, a small electric car that’s sold in Europe, but that isn’t quite substantial enough to meet U.S. standards for a roadworthy automobile. It’s likely being certified here under motorcycle rules. Nissan says the vehicle has a top speed of 25 mph, and a range of 40 miles per charge.

Related: 2016 Nissan Leaf unveiled with larger, optional battery pack

Bay Area residents can rent one of the Scoot Quads by joining Scoot and downloading an accompanying app (iOS and Android only), which finds nearby vehicles. Rates start at $8.00 per half hour, and $80.00 per day. Scoot Networks also has a fleet of about 400 electric scooters in San Francisco, with top speeds of up to 30 mph, and ranges of 20 to 25 miles.

Car sharing is becoming a popular alternative to ownership for many urban residents, for whom actually owning a car can be burdensome due to parking, traffic, and other considerations. Seeing both a potential threat to their existing business and a potential new revenue stream, carmakers are getting in on the action.

Daimler operates its Car2Go service with gasoline and electric Smart Fortwo models in several U.S. and European cities, and Audi is introducing a pilot short-term rental service called Audi On Demand in San Francisco. BMW operates its DriveNow electric-car sharing service in the Bay Area as well, but will suspend service effective November 2.