One of the first things that is important to know about car2go (all lower case) is that car2go is a subsidiary of Daimler AG – you know, the folks that make Mercedes-Benz. Daimler also makes the smart car (again, all lower case – those clever marketing folks) which is why we start our article with this crucial bit of information.
The Daimler Business Innovation Department developed the idea of carsharing using Daimler products exclusively in 2007. A pilot program was conducted in Ulm, Germany beginning in 2009, deemed successful with subsequent expansion internationally. Now operating in Germany (Hamburg and Ulm), Austin, Texas, Vancouver, B.C. and now San Diego. Operations will open soon in Amsterdam, Lyon, France and Vienna. All locations use either gasoline powered smart fortwo cars, or as is the case in San Diego, electric smart fortwos. San Diego’s fleet will be comprised of 300 electric vehicles (EVs) as will the 300 car fleet in Amsterdam. In other cities the gasoline powered fleet ranges from 200 to as many as 500 vehicles expected in Vienna.
So, why do we call this a different way to collect market data? Because Daimler is putting 600 electric cars in the hands of consumers without the consumers having to buy the product. No concerns about range anxiety, no issues with charging dock installation in consumer’s homes, and willing participants. It is also a good way to gain market visibility for your brand. All of these markets have what car2go calls an operating area where rentals can begin and end. Click here to check out the operating area in San Diego. Also, who wouldn’t like to have 300 of their vehicles parked in public parking spaces in a concentrated metropolitan area?
Rental starts by the minute ($0.35 per minute). Maximum rental charges are $12.99 per hour, and $65.99 per day (plus tax). So 30 minutes of use would run $10.50. Might as well cruise around for another 30 minutes for just $2.49, right? This actually is a useful way to get behind the wheel of one of these cars, take an extended test drive, and see if it might fit your needs.
We learned of the car2go launch downtown while at the Mitsubishi i test drive event in San Diego yesterday. Driving straight over after the Mitsu event, we muddled our way through the America’s Cup traffic congestion and checked out the launch event. Electric smart fortwos were parked everywhere, but only about a dozen or so seemed to be used for the two block test drive – out of the parking lot, turn right, turn right, turn right, back into the parking lot. Not much knowledge gained there. Registering in the program yesterday bypassed the $35 one-time membership fee and gave us 30 minutes of free drive time. We’re looking forward to getting our membership card in the mail and using their 30 minutes and perhaps 30 more (it’s only $2.50, remember?) to really check out this little two seater. Look for that test drive in the not too distant future.