Commuters within Amsterdam’s central business district can soon access all-electric vehicles through car2go. This car-sharing project funded by Daimler currently operates four locations in Europe and North America with three more to join Amsterdam in the next year. The Amsterdam branch of car2go will offer 300 smart fortwo EVs throughout the city starting on November 24th, 2011. This initial foray into EV car sharing in Amsterdam builds on consumer feedback, maintenance issues and price models used elsewhere by car2go.
Daimler announced that Amsterdam’s car2go network differs from other networks by disconnecting drivers from mandatory parking locations. Amsterdam currently offers 250 public charging stations powered entirely by alternative energy. The typical model for a car-sharing scheme includes a requirement for renters to return their vehicles to designated parking lots. Daimler notes that Amsterdam subscribers need not park their shared EVs at public charge points if battery capacity exceeds 20%. The automaker will encourage users to help future subscribers by offering 10 free minutes of operation in exchange for charging batteries under 40% capacity. Subscribers will be required to return car2go vehicles to six Q-Park garages in the network area when batteries drop below 20% capacity.
Another change for car2go is an adjusted pricing model that rewards the majority of commuters based on company research. Existing car2go networks offer free driving up to 12 miles with 29 cents charged per additional mile. This per-mile rate has been replaced with a timing model starting from 41 cents per minute. Daimler announced an hourly rate of $18.23, a daily rate of $55.10 with an overnight rate of $7.63 per hour. The automaker has installed telematics systems in each smart fortwo EV to track rental time as well as vehicle performance. These prices include auto insurance, parking costs and utility expenses accrued during operation. Analysts determined that 95% of Amsterdam drivers would likely use their vehicles for less than an hour, creating an affordable car-sharing model.
The success of car2go in North America and Europe shows a potential sea change in automobile ownership. Networks from Austin, Texas to Hamburg, Germany have accrued more than 45,000 subscribers who have accessed car2go vehicles more than 900,000 times. The transition from gas-powered urban vehicles to EVs could attract eco-conscious consumers who were put off by the use of traditional models by car2go. Daimler’s pricing model and liberalized rental requirements should also net casual observers who tire of sluggish public transit systems.