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Thursday, April 09, 2009
smart car2go - Austin Texas
Image: © 2009 Daimler AG

smart 'car2go' Project - Urban Mobility In Austin, Texas

AUSTIN, TEXAS - It's tough to put any car up against the enormous size of a Texas Longhorn Steer, but smart's fortwo car gave it a go. Daimler AG, the parent company of smart cars, will launch their smart car2go 'pay as you use' car rental program in Austin, Texas in the Autumn of this year (2009). The car2go program is going international to the United States, after a successful launch in the city of Ulm in Germany.

Daimler's car2go business has installed a pilot phase fleet of 200 smart fortwo cdi diesel cars in Ulm, Germany for the residents to start using on a daily basis. The diesel smart fortwo's are distributed throughout Ulm with designated parking spots for the car2go program cars to be rented from and returned to in the city's municipal car parks.  Currently, residents of Ulm who register for the car2go program are able to rent the smart fortwo's spontaneously at the vehicle, through the Internet, or by using their mobile phone.

In the city of Austin, the State capital of Texas, the city's 750,000 residents will make up the potential customer base for the car2go fleet. Austin's mayor, Will Wynn says, "Our city is known for its strong sense of environmental responsibility. car2go fits this wonderfully because we can then offer the residents of Austin an intelligent mobility concept with a high positive environmental factor. The project has our full support." By the Autumn of 2009, Austin should have 200 smart fortwo mhd gasoline powered cars in place, with each car having a smart designed start/stop technology that cuts the car's engine out at idle to save fuel.

In Ulm, where the car2go project was kicked-off on October 24, 2008, residents and visitors can drive smart fortwo cdi diesels for as long as they wish and then return them to any municipal car parking spot, and cease their rental. The car2go reservations computer automatically returns the smart car to the city's rental fleet ready for the next customer. Rates for the rental of a smart fortwo cdi are 19 euro cents per minute, which is inclusive of vehicle insurance, tax and fuel. The hourly rate for a car2go smart car is 9.90 euros, and the per day rate is 49 euros. Users of the car2go program must have a valid driver license and have performed a prior pre-registration within the car2go program.

Registered, car2go users will receive a seal to be affixed to their driving license and the seal can be read by every car2go vehicle installed scanner. To date, there have been over 8000 car2go rentals in the city of Ulm since the program started last October. The first phase of the introduction saw 50 cars being introduced to Ulm, and this was later raised to 100 cars in the city's fleet.

Today, the Ulm, Germany car2go fleet size numbers 200 cars and 1000 of Ulm's residents are registered in the program. With a total population of 120,000 residents in Ulm, it is hoped that the introduction of programs like Daimler's car2go will reduce inner city traffic congestion with more people using the car2go cars to get about the city's streets, or to take short trips on weekends if they don't own a car.

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