Find A Car, Get In, And Go

Categories: Mobility

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Wouldn't it be nice if when you paid your $2.00 at the parking meter, you actually got something for it?  How bout a little electricity?  Well that's what I was thinking when I first saw this picture above.  It was posted by Lucia Bondar who stated "This electric car is quite normal and popular in Europe for years."

I was taken by surprise, and had to go look up the Car2go company as I saw on this logo, and came to realize that these had been around since 2008! They're spreading around with a great little app that tells you where to pick up a car. You can rent them by the minute to get you around from place to place. It's a great concept, and it seems that noone wants to miss the boat on this, so more and more mainstream rental car companies are jumping on board!

Here's what the NY Times had to say:

Daimler Mobility Services, which includes Car2Go. “Young customers cannot imagine a life without smartphones anymore, and we need to be part of the smartphone world.”

Last year, about 2.3 million drivers worldwide belonged to a car-sharing service, a number expected to increase to 26 million by 2020, said Martyn Briggs, mobility expert at the consulting group Frost & Sullivan. About two-thirds are likely to use station-based services like Zipcar, while a third will use the new, one-way approach, in which cars have no set home location, he said.

The new sector’s growth is being propelled by a number of factors, including urbanization, the need to address problems like congestion and pollution, a big drop in car sales to young people, and, of course, the availability of technologies that enable more flexible approaches.

While Zipcar, which is available in North America and a handful of European countries, rents by the hour and requires vehicles to be returned to a designated parking spot at a time agreed upon in advance, Car2Go and DriveNow customers pay by the minute, and leave the cars in any legal space whenever they are finished. Drivers generally use them for quick, one-way trips that do not need to be planned ahead of time.

The companies negotiate parking rights with local governments, allowing their vehicles to float freely within a designated area, usually a city’s limits. When customers want a car, they use a smartphone to locate the one nearest them and a membership card to get in.

Both companies, whose approach requires GPS and an Internet connection in every car, started in Germany, where they are highly visible and popular, particularly among young people.

“In every big city almost, you see these vehicles standing around, and you can jump in and take it,” said Thorsten Wagner, a spokesman for the Automotive Institute for Management at the European Business School in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany.

A student recently complained to him about a local variant that required users to return vehicles to a designated parking spot, saying “‘This is inflexible, it’s not real car-sharing,”’ Mr. Wagner said. “It opened my eyes to how big this approach is.”

Car2Go has expanded across Europe and North America, and now has 9,500 cars and 500,000 customers in 25 cities, including Amsterdam, London, Miami and Seattle. DriveNow, which plans to expand, operates in five German cities, plus San Francisco, though its California operation offers less flexible parking.

Volkswagen, Citroën and Ford are among the other big manufacturers venturing into car-sharing. The German rail operator Deutsche Bahn runs the successful Flinkster, and Autolib operates a fleet of electric cars in Paris with backing from the Bolloré industrial group.

But Daimler and BMW are the clear leaders, and Mr. Wagner said it would be hard for competitors to catch up.

The companies, and industry analysts, say their flexible approach is just a taste of the innovations to come in an area they call urban mobility.

source:  The New York Times


Drivers simply hold their car2go member card to the windscreen to gain entry to the vehicle. The keys will be waiting inside so they can get going straight away. When they're done with the vehicle, they end the session the same way they started it. The car doesn't have to be used for a minimum or predetermined amount of time.



So yes, it's exciting.   And I would expect to see solar charging stations rearing their heads before long to keep the charging costs to a minimum and because of the great PR that comes with being green today.  What a terrific way to avoid costs in a world with grand population!  Many of us have come to look at our cars as our home away from home where we keep all our junk.  And carrying it around from car to car doesn't seem to make sense.  But for those who are in cities who take subways to work or cycle, this is a great way to go "grab a car" when you need to!

David Webster

Living Off The Grid

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