I hope Car2Go will not replace SmartCars with Mercedes vehicles in DC
Update: Tuesday 10/24
Car2Go did reach out to me about the post, writing:
We’d like to assure you that we are continuing to offer a mixed fleet of both smart and Mercedes-Benz car2gos in DC! Hope that puts your mind at ease.
SmartCar parked on Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
As they are doing in Austin, Texas ("Car2Go booting Smart cars in favor of subtler, larger Mercedes fleet," Austin American-Statesman) and Portland, Oregon ("Car2go ditching Smart cars in Portland, switching to all Mercedes-Benz fleet," Portland Oregonian). I put in query to car2go after the report from Austin, but they haven't replied and I haven't followed up.
In the Spring, Car2Go added Mercedes vehicles to their fleets across the country, in all likelihood to box out competition from BMW and other more upscale car sharing firms, but also to broaden the number of trips that can be accomplished by using the service by adding four-door vehicles.
The use of the Mercedes vehicles is somewhat more expensive than using the SmartCar, and significantly cheaper than using the BMW Reach Now service ("BMW plans for a future where no one buys cars," CNN), although at the present time the Reach Now service uses both Mini and more upscale vehicles.
I don't know about Austin and Portland, but I know in DC, Seattle and the borough of Brooklyn--the three largest communities of Car2Go users--because the street parking space inventory is so constrained, the small size and ease of parking the SmartCar ForTwo two-door vehicle is one of the two primary killer app/unique selling propositions" of the service, the second one being the one-way nature of the service (versus the two-way nature of Zipcar, where you have to keep the car until you return it to the place where you picked it up).
The table below lists the length of cars in the Car2Go and BMW Reach Now car sharing fleets. Car2 Go is active in 7 markets in the US (and 4 in Canada), Reach Now in 3.
|Vehicle||Length in inches||Length in feet|
|BMW 328xi||178-181||14.83 - 15.08|
|Mini 2-door||151-158||12.6 - 13.16|
From the PO:
They’ll be replaced with Mercedes-Benz CLA sedans and GLA compact SUVs, which were rolled out in Portland in February. Car2go, Smart and Mercedes-Benz all share a corporate parent in Daimler AG.I think Car2Go may be missing a key point. It is true with SmartCars a particular type of trip tends to be accomplished, because of the car's small size (although a third person can fit in the cargo compartment in a pinch). It's true that the four-door cars capable of accommodating up to five people and more luggage are likely to be used for longer and different trips than can be accommodated by the smaller vehicle.
“What we’ve really seen is just a clear preference for these cars,” said Ken Hills, Car2go’s general manager for Portland. “They’re being chosen by our members more often, and they’re really being used for much longer trips.”
But Car2Go shouldn't be making an either-or decision, but an and-and decision, broadening the fleet by adding the Mercedes CLA and GLA vehicles to enable car sharing users to accomplish a greater variety of trips using the service, not unlike how Zipcar has a wide variety of vehicle types in its fleet (they are not limited to the makes of one company, unlike the Daimler Benz-owned Car2Go service) including pick up trucks and vans.
If Car2Go switched exclusively to Mercedes vehicles in the DC market, I imagine use will drop off because it will be much more difficult to park the vehicles--finding six more feet to park a vehicle can be very difficult and will add significant time to a trip just to find parking, making Car2Go more inconvenient, rather than convenient and efficient.
-- "Car share news roundup," 2016
-- "Car share users are getting abused by the cities that ostensibly support car sharing as a form of sustainable mobility," 2016
-- "Car2Go agreement with Montreal's Trudeau Airport could be a model for other jurisdictions
-- "Car2Go is coming to Brooklyn," 2014
My original pieces from 2005:
-- "Car sharing in DC, where I argued that it should be a priority to charge these services for their use of the public space
-- "High Cost of Free* Parking Revisited and Car Sharing in DC," where I reconsidered, better recognizing the value of these services as a method for managing parking inventory
Note that the Car2Go program has been introduced to some cities and later shut down, including in San Diego and Minneapolis. I would argue you need a fairly dense population at the core, a "Walking City" urban design ("Transportation and Urban Form," Peter Muller), and a rich network of sustainable mobility services in which services like one-way car sharing (and bike sharing) are embedded and part of a range of modes of which "car light" households partake.