Londoners are learning that good things come in small packages, from Kate Middleton's recently bloomed baby bump, to newly rentable Smart ForTwo vehicles on the streets of the city.

Starting today, Londoners who want to drive but not own a car can sign up for Daimler's Car2go. The free-floating carsharing service is already in operation in the 17th city worldwide and prices in London will be a bit higher than other places: 35 pence (about 56 US cents) a minute. In the US, the blue-and-white Smart Fortwo mhd coupés cost 38 cents a minute to drive. Through the end of the year, though, people can register for free online, at BOXPARK Shoreditch or Europcar stores within London. New users will also get 30 minutes of free driving.

Car2go says other cities and towns in Great Britain will get carsharing fleets soon. It's no surprise that expansion is in the works, since the current rental rate is one every four seconds, Car2go says, averaged from all locations around the world. Details on how the system work can be found below.
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car2go brings smart carsharing to London

car2go, the simple-to-use carsharing service from Daimler and Europcar, has launched in three London boroughs. The idea behind car2go is simple – it's a whole new way of getting around that's easy to use, easy on the pocket, and easy on the environment. The future of Urban Mobility.

From Tuesday 4 December, car2go's fleet of funky smart mhd coupés are available to use – just get in and drive off. People can register free for car2go until the end of 2012, either online at car2go.com/London or at the car2go shop in the world's first pop-up mall, BOXPARK Shoreditch, or at car rental company Europcar's stores across London.

Once registered, car2go members can locate any available car through the car2go London website, by using a free app or just by walking up to an available car, touching the card reader on the windscreen, getting in and driving off.

As easy as using your mobile phone

car2go costs 35p per minute and is billed directly to the customers' account.

Until 31 December 2012, customers can register for free and get 30 minutes of driving pre-loaded onto their account. This rate always includes fuel, insurance, road tax, parking and maintenance. Customers don't even have to return their car2go to the same parking bay from which it was collected – any borough-owned or unregulated parking space in a participating borough will do. And of course the cars can be driven anywhere. The car2go can be kept as long as the customer wants, or for a quick hop across town.

"A lot of Londoners don't need or want a car all the time but enjoy the freedom that driving brings. car2go gives the best of both worlds – the ability to go where you want, when you want – and in comfort – but without all the costs associated with owning, running and insuring a car full-time," said Stefan Mueller, CEO car2go Europe gmbh.

"Today's launch in three London Boroughs is a big moment for car2go – the Capital is our first UK city. Of course, we're working with other Boroughs to bring car2go to more people over the coming weeks and months – and other cities and towns too. We're really at the beginning of a very exciting story for urban mobility in Great Britain."

London is the 17th city served by car2go, and globally the company has more than 250,000 customers who use over 6,000 vehicles worldwide. More than five million car2go rental transactions have been made to date, and this number continues to rise exponentially. In fact, a car2go vehicle is now being rented at one of the existing locations every four seconds.

Every car2go vehicle in London is based on the smart mhd – an efficient, compact two-seater which emits just 98g/km of CO2, plus the convenience of automatic transmission, start-stop technology, GPS navigation and the comfort of air conditioning. The smart fortwo coupé is easy to drive due to its dinky dimensions, a dream to park, and super safe thanks to its tridion safety cell. It's surprisingly practical too: its boot can accommodate everything from a quick shop to a tumble dryer – perfect for those impulse buys whether its Green Street, Upper Street, Cheam Road or anywhere in between.

Marcus Breitschwerdt, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd, added: "Our smarts are Congestion Charge-exempt, all have eco-start/stop, automatic transmission, air conditioning, GPS navigation, are fuelled, insured and cleaned and are available 24/7. If you park in a Borough-operated parking bay in Islington, Sutton or Newham you don't even have to pay for parking – car2go has got that covered too.

"car2go underlines Daimler's expertise not only as a leader and driving force in car technology and green innovation on the vehicle itself, but also Daimler's role as the unmatched leader in developing modern mobility concepts for people and goods."

Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar UK Group, said: "Europcar is very excited to be involved in this new innovation for UK motorists. Our focus is all about mobility and we believe car2go gives drivers even more choice in how they want to travel."

How it works

As the world's first-free floating carsharing service, car2go provides a new way of carsharing that is unique, particularly in these three areas:

By The Minute: Members pay only for the time they use the car, by the minute, with discounted rates for hourly and daily use. There is no minimum amount of time that a car can be used – whether a member needs a car for five minutes or an entire day – members simply get in and drive, for as long as they want without having to commit to a mandatory return time or location. Parking, fuel, maintenance and insurance are included at no additional cost, and there are no annual or monthly fees.

On Demand: Members can use the first available car2go they find, via a smart phone app, the car2go vehicle finder at car2go.com or by simply locating an available car2go on the street. There is no need to make a reservation in advance because members have unrestricted and unlimited access to car2go vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Free Floating: Members can pick up and drop off any car2go anywhere within the car2go Home Area − in any legal on-street parking space, including metered and non-metered spaces. Members do not need to drive the car back to its original location or commit to a predetermined amount of time. They can simply drive the car for as long as they need it, park the car at their destination, end the rental by swiping the card on the windscreen reader, and instantly the car becomes available for the next member to use.

There are five simple steps to using car2go:

Step 1: Become a Member – Licensed drivers can register to become a car2go member at car2go.com. Within three to five business days, a member card will be mailed to them. This membership card will give members access to all the cars in London.

Step 2: Locate a Vehicle – Members use the car2go finder at car2go.com, a smart phone app, tablet app, or the car2go facebook app to locate the nearest available car. They can either use the car spontaneously (without a reservation) or book a car2go in advance online or through the app, up to 24 hours in advance.

Step 3: Access the Vehicle – Members can simply walk up to the car2go, hold the membership card against the card reader on the windshield and the doors will unlock. After entering a PIN on the touchscreen and rating the condition of the vehicle, a key will be released, allowing them to drive.

Step 4: Drive – Members can take the car key which is stowed next to the touchscreen unit, start the car2go and drive off. They can drive as long as they want, without having to commit to a return time or location.

Step 5: Finish the Trip – Members can complete their trip in any available public parking space within the car2go Home Area. Charges are calculated by the minute, at a rate of 0.35 pence per minute, and will be debited from their credit card after exiting the vehicle. Fuel, parking, maintenance and insurance are included at no additional cost.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 6 Comments
      Spec
      • 21 Hours Ago
      I hope carsharing services become available everywhere. They are great for people who have an alternative system for getting to work (walk, bike, public transport, telecommute, etc.) and only need a car occasionally. They are also great for EV users since they provide an easy way to obtain a gas/hybrid car when you need one for a long trip.
        DaveMart
        • 21 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        That's a heck of a price though. It works out to £21 an hour, around $33. The US price is only $23/hour Meanwhile in France the 4-seater Autolib costs 4-7 Euros for half an hour, plus subsciption. That is about $10-18/hour. Rip-off London.
          • 21 Hours Ago
          @DaveMart
          * 14.90 per hour...I meant :)
          Letstakeawalk
          • 21 Hours Ago
          @DaveMart
          $23 will get you a whole day rental for a Ford Focus here.
          • 21 Hours Ago
          @DaveMart
          Correction ... their website says that the hour is 14.90 pounds per week. Cheers
          Letstakeawalk
          • 21 Hours Ago
          @DaveMart
          Renting from a normal agency (Hertz, Avis, etc.) is much, much cheaper.