Car2go, the German car sharing services company is growing, with nine cities added to the car2go network this year, including four in the U.S. The program provides members with access to Smart cars spread out all across the city and is pay-by-the-minute with automatic discounts applied at the one-hour mark. Car2go hopes to be in 50 cities worldwide by the end of 2015.
About the Company
Launched as a pilot program in Ulm, Germany in 2008 by Daimler AG and tested by Daimler employees, car2go was rolled out to the public the following year. The company has since expanded across Europe and into North America bringing its city total up to 30. Today, the car2go network has over 12,000 vehicles in operation and more than 1 million users. It was honored in 2010 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Excellence Award in recognition of the environmental benefits of the car2go model.
How it Works
Members pay a one-time registration fee and receive a chip card that unlocks available vehicles using a chip reader located just under the windshield at the bottom right corner. Cars are located throughout the city within a wide net of designated neighborhoods. Users can locate available vehicles using the free car2go app. Trips can end anywhere within a designated neighborhood, as long as it’s not on private property or in a restricted or pay parking spot. There’s no need to return the car to the point of origin.
A touchscreen is built into the vehicle’s dashboard, which allows users to rate the cleanliness of the car and choose between parking and locking the car but keeping it reserved (if running errands, for instance) or ending the voyage, making the vehicle available for the next user.
Fees vary from city to city, but a typical cost model is as follows:
- $0.38 plus tax per minute
- $13.99 plus tax per hour
- $0.45 plus tax per mile after 150 miles per rental
- $72.99 plus tax per day, maximum
Fees are automatically charged to the credit card provided at signup. Insurance and gas/charging (some cities use electric Smart cars) are included in the fees as is residential parking permits. Paid parking, towing, parking fines, etc. must be paid for by the user who incurred the charges.
Car2go is currently in 13 U.S. cities. They are:
- San Diego
- Washington, D.C.
- Portland, Oregon
- Eugene, Oregon
- South Bay, Los Angeles
- Saint Paul, Minnesota
The program first came to the U.S. in November 2011 when it was launched in San Diego. The most recent U.S. cities to be added are Eugene and Brooklyn, which joined the car2go network in October, 2014.
The program has received mostly positive feedback, with users praising its convenience. “It’s… fun to ‘find’ a car on the street, take it for a spin and just leave it somewhere else in town,” writes Brier Dudley, a technology and business columnist for the Seattle Times. “This is almost like a real-life version of the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ video games, especially if you drive like crazy to minimize your per-minute charge.”
It hasn’t gone without its share of criticism however. Some residents have expressed their frustration with the broad parking permits cities have issued car2go. “I found that not only were there multiple vehicles taking up very limited parking space on this street but they also, contrary to what some people may believe, they stayed for hours,” says Calgary resident Laura Di Santo.
Brier Dudley also found some drawbacks to the program citing cost and lack of availability as issues. “Car2go rentals ended up costing more than I expected — much more than a bus ride — and availability isn’t predictable enough to count on the service for important appointments,” says Dudley. “The cars always seem to be scarce when I need one the most.”
Have you tried car2go or other car sharing services? Let us know your experience by tweeting us @NapkinBetaBeyond.