Hyundai’s new car-sharing program lets users drive its electric cars for free

Hyundai ICONIQHyundai ICONIQHyundai USA

LOS ANGELES — Hyundai is jumping into the car-sharing space with a project of its own, and it involves free cars.

The automaker is partnering with WaiveCar — an all-electric car-sharing platform that operates on advertising revenue — to give customers a chance to drive its new ICONIQ electric vehicle free of charge for the first two hours of driving.

The program launches in Los Angeles in January.

Here’s the catch: the cars will be wrapped in branded graphics, and there’s a 4G-connected digital display on the roof that runs geo-targeted ads.

In a press release on Wednesday, Hyundai offered an example of what other drivers might see if you were stuck in traffic: “This commute would be a lot more comfortable in a Hyundai ICONIQ,” an ad might read.

So, in exchange for two hours of free rides, you will essentially be driving a billboard. Stay behind the wheel any longer and you’ll pay $6 per hour for the privilege.

For Hyundai’s part, the program is a way to increase brand-awareness. The company has hybrid models in its current lineup, but it is not widely known for green vehicles.

The ICONIQ is the first all-electric model from the Korean brand and it hits dealers this winter. The car will run 124 miles on a single charge, according to Hyundai. That’s a bit short of the upcoming Tesla Model 3, which is expected to stretch to 215 miles. The Chevy Bolt electric hatchback zooms past both at 238 miles fresh off the plug.

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