Car2go Gains Momentum in Austin Area with New Partnerships, Public Event

May 13th, 2010 BY njkaters | No Comments

Daimler and the city of Austin, Texas initiated an urban
mobility program called car2go in November 2009. This program allows car2go
members to rent vehicles by the minute or hour without the hassles of the
rental counter. This partnership mirrors a similar experiment in urban mobility
in Ulm, Germany. As car2go approaches its public unveiling in Republic Square
Park on May 21st, the public-private collaboration appears to be
heading in the right direction. Representatives from Daimler recently announced
a new partnership with high-end Austin real estate firm urbanspace.

This latest partnership builds on car2go’s early success
with Austin-based customers. The first major client for car2go was Lance
Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG, which signed a deal with car2go this February. The
state of Texas also arranged a deal with car2go in March to expedite the
membership process for state employees. The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central
Texas joined the car2go family with an agreement penned in April. These
partnerships not only boost car2go’s profile but also ensure a sufficient
customer base to expand its rental fleet.

The car2go system was attractive to urbanspace, which
employs 30 agents and administrative assistants that travel throughout Austin.
Urbanspace and other car2go members can access a fleet of 200 smart fortwo
vehicles at public lots in the Austin area. The partnership maintains an
updated map of available vehicles on its website for laptop, PDA and iPhone
users. Members simply scan their cards against vehicle sensors in windshields
to complete their rentals. Car2go charges $0.35 per minute and $12.99 per mile,
making it possible for urbanspace realtors and other members to travel short
distances without spending a lot of money. These rental rates include maintenance,
auto insurance and prepaid gas cards for the convenience of customers.

The flood of public and private partners for car2go bodes
well for urban mobility schemes from Better Place and the Renault-Nissan
Alliance
. Daimler and Austin officials have to be excited that their list of
members includes major consumers in the state capitol. In less than six months,
car2go has gone from a pilot program to a public transit corollary that can be
replicated in other major cities. Lingering questions about upfront costs,
rental prices and fleet maintenance will be answered in Austin and Ulm in the
near future. The demonstration of a sustainable business model by car2go should
energize other cities to hop aboard the urban mobility train in the next five
years.