In DC and Seattle could Car2Go (ShareNow) be converted to a nonprofit and remain in business? (Or could it be sold to Zipcar?)
Leading one way car sharing platform to exit North America. Recently, Car2Go, the one-way carsharing service originally created by Daimler Benz, and later merged with BMW, and renamed ShareNow, announced that it would be shutting down all of its remaining operations in North America: Montreal; New York City; Seattle; Vancouver; and Washington, DC/Arlington County, Virginia ("Share Now, formerly Car2Go, is leaving North America," The Verge).
-- "Car2Go dying: further effects from the rise of ride hailing and damage to the sustainable mobility platform/mobility as a service paradigm"
I haven't used Car2Go in Canada or New York City. I have used it in Seattle (and San Diego, where it used electric cars, which were awesome).
Granted I don't have access to their financials, but I wonder if one or more of these cities could still be successful with one way car sharing, were the Mercedes-BMW venture willing to consider other business models, or weren't primarily interested in Europe, where they are better positioned to succeed as opposed to North America, which is a market very much cluttered with other operators going for the same market segment.
Plus as charlie mentioned, with a change in US CAFE requirements, and Dieter Zetsche no longer being the CEO of Mercedes, the company is no longer interested in the SmartCar ("Daimler's incoming CEO considering killing Smart, report says," CNET)
Planners need to have scenarios in place to deal with situations like this. In some of my writings on parks and cultural planning, where there are multiple actors, I recommend that localities do some basic planning for all the parks or cultural assets in their community, especially if they are provided by state, federal, county, or for profit entities, in order to be able to respond when conditions change--e.g., in the aftermath of the 2008 recession many state park agencies closed park units, with devastating impacts on localities relying on these parks for tourism and other benefits.
The same now goes for transportation planning, because of the recent rise in the number of for profit actors in the space including micromobility--e-bikes, e-scooters, dockless bike share, micro-transit; ride hailing; and even train service in Florida and eventually Las Vegas (Brightline/Virgin Trains USA).
I recommend using the German Transport Association model as a way to coordinate and integrate mobility services across a region as well as providing a place at the table for for profit providers:
-- "The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association" (2017)
-- "Another example of the need to reconfigure transpo planning and operations at the metropolitan scale: Boston is seizing dockless bike share bikes, which compete with their dock-based system" (2018)
-- "Branding's (NOT) all you need for transit" 2018
I argue that one-way car share is a key element in the sustainable mobility platform ("Further updates to the Sustainable Mobility Platform Framework") and within DC's platform for mobility as a service ("DC is a market leader in Mobility as a Service (MaaS)").
Could one-way car share, with microcars, still be viable in DC (and/or other cities) in a nonprofit or subsidy scenario?
-- Would it be worth continuing in terms of the SMP and MaaS?
-- Could it be worthwhile for Zipcar to buy it? (They weren't successful in coming up with one-way car share on their own).
-- Or would the Free2Move operation by Groupe PSA which operates in DC be willing to take on Car2Go's customer base? (At least in DC, you can just join Free2Move. But the other cities don't have that option.)
-- Just as DC jumped on Arlington County's negotiation of a bike share contract to relaunch bike share in DC in 2010, could DC and Arlington County somehow work together to continue to keep Car2Go alive, and even expand it in the DC area?
-- Is there a place for some kind of subsidy? E.g., DC makes a lot of money per car, say $2,000, in annual licensing fees, in part to cover the opportunity cost of lost car revenue. That's over $1 million per year. Could a higher excise tax on ride hailing vehicle trips be used to support a subsidy program? Etc.
-- Granted a big problem with nonprofit car share is having to reinvest in new vehicles as existing vehicles age out.
For this to be explored, cities would have to come together and ask ShareNow to keep the service going for a few more months, to explore alternatives.
-- ShareNow announced that the service would cease at the end of February 2020.
Perhaps NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, could get involved? And the Shared Use Mobility Center of Chicago (funded through the sale of a nonprofit car sharing system to Enterprise Car Share).
I fear there is neither the time nor the creativity to be able to explore this kind of option.