Daimler Car2go pilot project launches in Austin, Texas. Click image to enlarge
Austin, Texas – Daimler and the City of Austin, Texas have launched a pilot car-sharing project, Car2go, that will offer a fleet of Smart Fortwo models to members.
Austin has become the official headquarters of Car2go North America LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler.
The first pilot phase involves 200 Smart cars and a defined group of users. At some point in 2010, more cars will be added, and Car2go will be made available to all Austin residents and students.
After a one-time registration process, customers can use the service on the spot by accessing any available vehicle on the street, or by booking in advance through the online reservation process. A significant difference from traditional car-sharing programs is that Car2go offers cars on demand, and customers may use the vehicle for as long as they like, without committing to a specific return time. Users can make one-way trips, and charges are based on time, not distance, with rates starting by the minute. The use of the car includes all city-controlled parking fees, as Car2go is paying a usage fee to the City of Austin in the form of free driving minutes for employees driving on city business; fuel, maintenance, and insurance are also included. The service is currently limited to the greater downtown Austin area, where about 60,000 people work.
Car2go first appeared in October 2008, in the southern German city of Ulm. Austin is the first North American city involved; Daimler plans to eventually have an international rollout. In Ulm, the 200 Smarts in the first pilot are rented 500 to 1,000 times a day, and used by 15,000 customers, representing more than 15 per cent of all citizens in Ulm who possess a driver’s licence. Almost 90 per cent use the service spontaneously, without booking in advance, and for one-way trips.