Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Car2Go electric cars in San Diego

If you are a member of Car2Go, you likely know that you can use your membership in other US cities, but not in Canada or Europe, EXCEPT that recently they expanded usage privileges to cities in Canada, and I guess there is the possibility that it will be extended to European cities as well.

One thing to watch out for is the "home zone."

I didn't check to see if where I was going in San Diego was part of the Home Zone--my fault, I presumed, relying more on how most all of DC is "home zone" for Car2Go, not realizing only about half of San Diego is similarly enabled.

BUT, I drove an electric SmartCar in the process.

Image from "Electric car sharing comes to the US" from Motor Nature.

I didn't consider until later in the day when I "processed" my experience afterwards, that the car drove BEAUTIFULLY, unlike the herky-jerky experience you get driving the gasoline powered cars using a different transmission.

I didn't pick up the car from a charging station and I didn't drop it off at one, so I didn't get a chance to learn about that element of the system.

For obvious reasons, electric cars work better in warmer climates, but range is still degraded in high temperatures ("AAA: Range of electric cars cut in cold, hot weather," USA Today).

Note that Car2Go is great when it works, and a pain "when it doesn't." You see this in the comments on yelp (mostly I don't consider yelp comments definitive but a useful source of information nonetheless).

Partly it's because they don't have enough call center help. (And the wireless connections in each car vary in strength sometimes and don't work so well in areas with weaker mobile telephony coverage. This is a problem on our block...) And individual city offices, not the call center, make decisions about credits, etc.

But my problem, not being able "to find a place to park" was due to my not checking well enough before, what the home zone area is in San Diego. Once I looked at the map and it happened that the freeway I drove on was the border, then I understood my problem with Car2Go was really my problem.

Few negative commenters on yelp take responsibility for when their mistake is the cause of the problem.



At 10:39 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Great feedback. They had done an electric demo in Georgetown last summer but I missed out -- electric motors would certainly alleviate the awful transmissions.

(The suspensions are terrible too but you shouldn't get too fast on them).

Daimler is very quietly building a 1B in revenue business. I'm not typical, but i spend far more on car2go than uber. The biggest problem is DC could use about 10x more cars.

Car2Go could also learn from bikeshare and open up it data a bit more. I think the amount of revenue they are bringing in is something they don't want to share -- those parking licences could easily double.

And not sure how I feel about the consumer having to pay the tax. It is low enough that it isn't a significant deterrent.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I didn't realize they did a demo last summer. FWIW, I was driving the car on CA-15, which is a freeway, and it did take awhile to get up to speed. It was a great ride though.

wrt "taxing" I see the importance of equalization, but it bugs me some because "car users" of car sharing pay far more to use a car than "car owners" as far as the city goes. I don't think it's fair that we pay a lot more per capita to use the city streets for parking than a car owner paying a $35 residential parking permit fee (on my block a permit isn't required).

It's not like the cars aren't already paying the same fees, initial registration, annual registration, that car owners are paying.

2. wrt "the data," yep, but I think it's hard for Daimler to get their heads around this. I talked to some of the workers once, and they said that it's hard to get the Germany side to change stuff. (E.g., some of the issues with the website, that it's hard to find mobile apps via the website--but not separately from the website, as you know).

3. I don't like using cabs/Uber, so we use Car2Go a fair amount. Suzanne uses it way more than me, so much, that she just was awarded a special "black card," to denote her being a power user.


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