After spending some time with the Car2go program in Austin, TX recently, we came away quite impressed. We also realized that this sort of thing could very easily become the future of big city car "ownership." Now, Daimler has announced an expansion and improvement to Car2go in Amsterdam. Well, some might see the new deal as an improvement; others can see how the new fleet of 300 all-electric Smart Fortwos coming to Amsterdam by the end of this year will be incredibly difficult to organize the same way the cars in Austin are.
See, in Austin, you can pick up a Car2go Fortwo anywhere within the 52-square mile service area and then drop it off anywhere inside the borders when you're done. The entire premise is one-way, no-hassle rentals and someone might hop into your car as soon as you get to your destination and say you're done with it. Using all-electric vehicles for this introduces two problems: it seems that at least some of the time, you'll need to leave the car somewhere where it can be charged; and a car on empty needs to sit for a while to recharge. Strangely, the press release announcing the service says, "[the service] allows customers to rent the cars spontaneously with having the burden to commit to a specific return time or location" (we assume that is supposed to say "without"). Also, there's this: "Further details of the service such as business area, parking/charging concept and start of customer registrations will be discussed in the course of the coming months."
Perhaps there will be a way to rent a car that, if you get one that's near empty, you can drive to a central depot to get a fully charged one. Perhaps low-charge vehicles will not show up in the system as available and Car2go employees will head out to get them charged up. Whatever the solution to these problems are, the Amsterdam expansion will be one of the first large-scale electric car sharing programs in the world and we're sure Daimler will learn so much about turning these kind of cars loose on the city that it'll remain years ahead of its competitors.
April 11, 2011
• car2go to introduce one of the world's first large scale electric car sharing programs
• Amsterdam strongly commited to furthermore extend electric charging infrastructure
• 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles on the streets by end of 2011
Amsterdam - car2go today announced to bring its innovative mobility program to Amsterdam before end of 2011 and decided to run one of the world's first large scale carsharing fleets of pure electric vehicles there with 300 smart fortwo cars.
"The future of mobility has arrived. The smart fortwo electric drive has already been delivered to our customers in 18 markets worldwide. And car2go, our innovative mobility concept, has proven to be a success in Germany and in the U.S.," says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "We will next set a new benchmark for sustainable individual mobility by bringing these two intelligent concepts together."
The car2go program is already very successful in Ulm/Germany and Austin/Texas with a total of more than 35.000 members. In Hamburg, the car2go program was made available to the public with 300 vehicles last week. The electric car2go program is going to start operations in Amsterdam before end of 2011 with 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles. All cars will be equipped with latest telematics technology, allowing fully automated, easy and convenient rental operations. It allows customers to rent the cars spontaneously with having the burden to commit to a specific return time or location.
"We are delighted that car2go has opted for Amsterdam as one of the first cities in the world to start this electric car sharing project", says Eric Wiebes, alderman for traffic, transportation and air quality of the city of Amsterdam. "It fits perfectly into Amsterdam's strive for improving the air quality in the city. This project brings electric car sharing a significant step closer to a major audience. As car sharing vehicles are completing many kilometres within the city, electrification of such vehicles in particular has a positive effect."
Amsterdam is known world-wide for its openness to new technologies and businesses. Around 300 electric charging stations are expected to be installed by end of 2011 for public use, increasing to 1000 by end of 2012.
"As from the very beginning, our smart fortwo has been invented as the ideal car for individual mobility in dense urban areas," says Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of smart. "The smart fortwo electric drive has been tailored to shape the future of urban mobility, combining environmentally responsible driving with a lot of fun and perfect functionality. smart is much more than just a small car – it is a big idea for metropolitan areas and now for the wonderful city of Amsterdam - Proficiat!"
"car2go is designed to meet the growth and diversity of mobility needs in dense urban areas while protecting environment and quality of life," says Robert Henrich, CEO of car2go GmbH, "Amsterdam's strong focus on implementing and fostering green technologies such as an extensive electric infrastructure and its citizen's open-minded lifestyle makes it the perfect place to launch an electric car2go program."
Amsterdam has an efficient public transit network as well as various bike and car sharing schemes which are well accepted by its citizens. "car2go is aiming to complement the existing transport systems by providing a service for short and spontaneous one-way trips. We see ourselves not as a competition to other means of transport, but as another puzzle piece in the mix of Amsterdam's different means of urban transportation," says Henrich.
car2go is planning to establish a subsidiary in the Netherlands in order to bring the service to Amsterdam. Further details of the service such as business area, parking/charging concept and start of customer registrations will be discussed in the course of the coming months based on a memorandum of understanding with the City of Amsterdam signed today.
A subsidiary of Daimler, car2go is an innovative mobility solution redefining individual transportation in rapidly growing urban areas by offering a fleet of several hundred environment-friendly smart vehicles for rent. It provides an innovative mode of "on-demand" transportation which compliments existing public transportation alternatives by bridging the gaps commonly associated with the "first and last mile" of a public transit commute. Unlike traditional car sharing programs or car rental companies, car2go is not station-based. car2go vehicles are located throughout the city and can be accessed "on-demand", or reserved 15 minutes in advance. The members may use the vehicle for as long as they like, without committing to a specific return time or return location. car2go provides a simple and fair price structure that allows members to pay for what they use. Attractive "by-the-minute" rates include costs for fuel, insurance, maintenance and even parking. Customers are not required to enter into long-term contracts, or pay any minimum spend, deposits or basic monthly fees.
About Amsterdam electric
Amsterdam's goal is to be a clean, healthy and livable city for its current residents and for future generations. The city continues to work on implementing a variety of measures to achieve this goal. Electric mobility offers the city a way to significantly improve air quality, and it is good for the city's economy as well. The City of Amsterdam stimulates car sharing and is encouraging the transition to electric mobility by facilitating the construction of charging stations and implementing measures to make it more attractive for the city's residents and businesses to switch to electric vehicles. By 2015, Amsterdam is expected to have 10,000 electric vehicles on the roads.