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Car2go

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car2go launch
Car2go's March 2012 launch in Pioneer Courthouse Square

Car2go is a one-way (or "point to point" or "floating fleet") carsharing service that launched in Portland in March 2012 and offers with 310 two-seater Smart cars as of December 2012. (The total includes 30 electric models.)

Unlike Zipcar or Getaround, which generally charge lower hourly rates but must be returned to their home location and require users to pay for their time while parked, Car2Go's vehicles can be left anywhere in most public parking spaces (including paid spaces) inside Car2Go's Portland home area and parked for free without paying for the car's time.

Car2go does not require users to reserve time in advance, though it allows them to do so up to 24 hours in advance. Though Car2go can't guarantee that a car booked more than 15 minutes in advance will remain in that location, if the car moves, users are referred to another car near their booking location.

This allows the company to avoid charging late fees for missed returns.

The system makes Car2go ideal for local trips that can be combined, in a pinch, with public transit.

As of December 2012, Car2go is also available in downtown and north-central Seattle, making it useful even for Portlanders who don't use it in Portland.

Contents

[edit] Where Car2go can be found or parked in Portland

car2go home area revised July 12
The Car2go service area in July 2012.

Car2go's "home area" is, as of July 2012, a 37-square-mile zone roughly between Lombard and Woodstock and between NW 25th Avenue and Interstate 205, plus the Sellwood and Moreland neighborhoods as far south as Tacoma Street. It also includes the Montgomery Park business park in Northwest Portland, the area immediately surrounding the Gateway Transit Center and a few blocks on the approach to Marquam Hill and along Southwest Macadam Avenue's side streets.

This was a 15% expansion over the service's original 32-square-mile home area, which had its northern limit at Killingsworth Street.

Cars are allowed to leave the home area, but cannot be taken off the clock until they return.

[edit] Price

Car2Go charges a one-time $35 activation fee and 38 cents per minute driven, up to $13.99 per hour, including gas and insurance. Car2go does not charge an annual or monthly fee. As of September 2012, Car2go's 24-hour rate is $72.99.

[edit] When is Car2Go cheaper than Zipcar or Getaround?

At 38 cents per minute, it'd be cheaper to use Car2go than a $10-an-hour Zipcar if a one-hour trip involved less than 27 minutes of actual driving. For a $7.75 Zipcar, the break-even point is 21 minutes. The average Car2go trip is less than 30 minutes, the company said in May 2012 -- but said in July 2012 that the "typical" Portland trip was 30 to 45 minutes.

Car2go's big cost advantages for consumers, though, come in the fact that it charges by the minute rather than the mile, that it can be used for one-way trips, and that it doesn't charge late fees. Zipcars can't currently be booked for less than one hour, or in less than 30-minute increments after that, and late fees start around $50 for a missed return. Car2go's prices are both more flexible and more forgiving.

[edit] When is Car2go cheaper than my own car?

The cost of driving a nice sedan of your own is estimated by AAA at about $17 per day, plus 18 cents for each mile driven. At these costs, if you had ready access to Car2go and typically drove less than 50 minutes on the average day, it'd be cheaper to use Car2go instead of owning. (The biggest tradeoff, of course, is that you can't guarantee that a Car2go will remain in place.)

[edit] How to find the nearest Car2go

The best way to find and book a Car2go is probably with a smartphone, or a telephone call to Car2go's service center: 877-488-4224. Car2go released a free iPhone/iPad app of its own in April 2012, and a free Android app of its own in July 2012. It also chose (like TriMet) to open a public API and let third parties develop their own mobile apps.

[edit] Operation details

[edit] Local contact info

car2go local office
Inside Car2go's Pearl District office, May 2012.

Car2go's Portland office is at 1100 NW Glisan, Suite 1B. Two customer service representatives work there during normal business hours. They can be contacted directly at 503-841-6334 or portland@car2go.com. However, it's sometimes more reliable to contact Car2go's 24/7 call center in Newton, Iowa at 877-488-4224. (This number is also on the back of all member cards.)

[edit] A common Car2go mistake: not completing the rental

A Car2go rental is not complete until the renter has also exited the vehicle, closed all doors and -- crucially -- tapped their member card against the Car2go's windshield box. Not doing so can leave the meter running, leading to a huge Car2go bill. If this happens to you, call Car2go's call center, explain the situation and ask for a refund. The company is typically forgiving of such confusion among new users.

[edit] Service disruptions

car2go outage pointing
Car2go spokeswoman Katie Stafford points to an area affected by a cell tower service disruption, May 2012.

Car2go vehicles begin and end their trips by connecting to the local cell phone network. If a car fails to connect, the car may not open, or it may be impossible to end the trip.

If a car fails to connect to the network after it is parked, Car2go suggests turning the ignition off and on again, moving to another parking space and trying again. If that also fails, call Car2go's 24/7 service line at 877-488-4224 and ask them to shut off the car remotely (they have access to every car via a backup network) and to remove the extra minutes from your rental period.

[edit] How to know when there is a disruption

As of May 2012, Car2go's most reliable way of discovering a service disruption was for individuals at its call center or local team to personally notice a high call volume in a certain area. If a localized disruption is discovered, the company will announce it on Twitter, Facebook or, for an extraordinary outage, by email.

If you want to be notified by email every time Car2go announces a "disruption" or "maintenance" on its Twitter account, sign up for Portland Afoot's unofficial notification service by email or by RSS. (Emails are automated, delivered daily in late afternoon, and do not include @ replies to individual users. All emails include an unsubscribe link.)

[edit] How to refuel Car2go

car2go gas card
The gas card in a Car2go.

Any Car2go user can voluntarily refuel Car2go by driving to a gas station and pressing the "get gas" option to eject the car's gas card. Since fuel costs are built into the rental rate, there is no additional cost to the driver -- in fact, if the car is less than one-quarter full, Car2go will credit the driver (once per rental) with free minutes.

[edit] Stopovers

Anyone can pick up an empty Car2go vehicle that isn't in use. If a driver wants to keep charge of the car while it's out of use, he or she can register a "stopover" that keeps the car in the driver's control -- and the clock running -- while parked.

[edit] How rates are calculated

Rates are calculated in favor of the user. After 37 minutes, a Car2go user switches from per-minute rate to the per-hour rate, so the remaining 23 minutes of an hour are essentially free. After an hour, the rate switches back to 35 cents a minute, so a 61-minute trip would cost $13.34. At 97 minutes, the price hits $25.98.

[edit] Ban on attaching bicycle racks to Car2go

Car2go's service agreement does not allow users to attach anything to the outside of their vehicles, including an external bike rack. Car2go spokeswoman Katie Stafford said in May 2012 that this is because Car2go's insurance rate changes based on anything attached to the outside of the vehicles.

However, a bicycle can often fit inside a car2go if the right passenger seat is folded down.

[edit] Ban on parking Car2go sideways

As noted in a Portland Transport analysis of Car2go, Car2go's rules forbid parking a car sideways (perpendicular to the curb), even if it fits.

[edit] Dashboard apps

Car2go introduced its first dashboard app in spring 2012, a program that assesses a driver's eco-driving. (These can be accessed by pressing the "apps" button beside the screen.)

[edit] Contractual relationship with City of Portland

Car2go's operating expenses include payments to the Portland Bureau of Transportation to compensate the city for auto parking spaces occupied.

For its first six months in the city, according to an email from city spokesman Dan Anderson, Car2go was paying $1,009 per year per vehicle. This included:

  • $40 for a general permit
  • $225 for five area parking permits (5 x $45 each)
  • $744 for meter revenue recovery

The city reserved the right to revise the annual permit cost in future years. In February 2013, the Oregonian reported that the fee had risen to $1,300 annually.

[edit] Car2go in other cities

Car2go, which is owned by Daimler, has its North American headquarters in Austin and also operates in Seattle, Austin, Vancouver BC, San Diego, Washington DC and Miami. As of February 2012, it had more than 30,000 members in those locations.

Though it was not possible at the time car2go launched in Portland, car2go cards for one U.S. city can also be used in any other U.S. city. (As of December 2012, the same is not true for cards that cross international borders.)

[edit] Analysis of the business model

[edit] By Dave Brook

In a November 2009 comment on his own blog, Portland carsharing consultant Dave Brook wrote:

"I continue to have a LOT of difficulty understanding the implications of car2go. It really is far more 'disruptive' than I initially understood (and that's not a bad thing). I think their slogan 'personal public transportation' describes their business model pretty well, It's not (just) carsharing 2.0, although it certainly overlaps with traditional carsharing (at least for people who only need 2 seats) - it's something different. Taxicabs will be the big losers here. It may also take some trips from public transit."

[edit] By Chris Smith

In a set of reflections on Car2go published on Portland Transport several weeks after its Portland launch, transportation activist Chris Smith speculated: "In general, the 'sustainability win' for car sharing is that it makes it more likely that your household will give up a car (or not buy one to start with). From that perspective, I think that having car2go in the mix may very well encourage more folks to go car-lite or car-free."

[edit] By Ari

In a November 2009 blog post, Ari, a writer and employee of Minneapolis-based Hourcar, argued that the model is fundamentally flawed because of the time requirements of finding parking, the need to have many cars in a system and the need for cars to be "rebalanced" on a regular basis. "A one-way car sharing system only works in an area well-served by transit," he wrote. "However, to get from one area served by transit to another, you don't really need car sharing."

[edit] External links


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