Daimler's car2go Is For City Dwellers Who Need Short-Term Mobility
Daimler AG launched a new car sharing business unit last month called car2go in the city of Ulm, Germany. The car2go business unit has been set-up in a short ten months and uses the smart fortwo cdi diesel cars, which are rented on a per minute basis by registered users of car2go. The car2go smart's can be rented for as long as the registered user wants and the per minute charge peaks at a daily cut-off rental rate. The smart fortwo cdi can be dropped off anywhere in the city where safe and legal parking is available. In cooperation with the city of Ulm, special designated car2go parking/pick-up spots have been created, and these have also been installed in airports and train stations throughout the city.
The smart fortwo cdi diesel car is the world's most fuel efficient production car, and emits a very low 88 g/km of CO2. The diesel smart fortwo CDI has a 33kW/45 hp engine and achieves a healthy combined city/highway European NEDC 69.1 U.S. mpg (3.4 L/100 km / 83.1 Imp MPG).
Daimler held a press conference about their new car2go business pilot last month (October 2008), and they announced that the trial would occur in Ulm, Germany, a city of approximately 120,000 residents. For Daimler AG, the car2go business model is expected to expand internationally once they have fine tuned the involved business processes over the next twelve months within the city of Ulm. What is clear is that each major city will present its own type of car2go challenges, so pricing will relate to the total number of users, the area of a given city, the city inhabitant driving habits, and the average city user trend towards the care of the car2go vehicles in the fleet.
Daimler believes that the car2go business is part of the future for urban mobility worldwide. Customers in the Ulm, Germany car2go trial will register to use the smartfor two cars and their driving licenses will have a special sticker applied to them, so that the licenses can be read by the car2go card readers installed on each car. The car2go smart cars are rented by either Internet, blackberry, other PDA's, or by calling the car2go call centre. Each car2go smart car is equipped with a telemetry GPS transponder that locates the vehicle, and also sends vital statistics about the car to the car2go call centre.
The car2go program started in Ulm, Germany in October 2008, with 50 smart fortwo cdi's amongst a test user community. This fleet size will be increased to 200 cars and the program opened to the public starting in the beginning of 2009. Daimler will roll-out the business to other cities once they have a 100% understanding of all the business parameters - both commercial and technical.
The business model relies upon the developed integrity and honesty of a city's car2go user community. Each car is rated by the user as to cleanliness and functionality of the car at the start of the rental, and the user enters this data on specially developed touch screen on the controls console. Like the ebay approach to a user community, car2go users will have a rating associated with their use of the cars, which will be based upon their past history of rental.
The smart fortwo's will be serviced by a mobile car2go crew, and if a user indicates that one needs special service, the car's telemetry will send out a signal to the call centre, which in turn will create a maintenance ticket to dispatch service personnel. Daimler are putting a significant effort into the car2go business concept. In Paris, France, for instance, the city is putting out a tender for a fleet of 4000 car sharing cars to be installed. Daimler AG is certain that the car2go business model will be part of the future for automotive mobility and they are 100% behind this effort.