We first brought you news of Daimler's plans to launch its car2go short-term rental service for the Smart ForTwo in Austin, Texas back in March. Now that the date is drawing nearer, we can bring you even more details about its offerings, including pricing estimates.
The program has so far seen successful application in the German city of Ulm, and accordingly the only real-world pricing so far has been in euros. Still, the translation of cost is possible, though with some degree of guesstimation involved. In Europe, the cost of the car2go rentals is 28 cents per minute. A number closer to 25 cents per minute, or even lower, could be possible here in the U.S., as the fee includes insurance, taxes, fuel and wear and tear.
Though insurance and taxes are somewhat cheaper in the U.S., fuel use and miles traveled will be a good deal higher, so the costs may balance out. For longer periods, flat rates of $15 per hour and $75 per day may apply, as roughly analogous to the current European rates. Also included in the Texas pilot program are all city-controlled parking meters and spaces--no paying for parking.
So how do you go about renting one of these cars? That's part of the novelty of the experience. Unlike a traditional car rental scheme, the car2go model is much more like that of Zipcar. Whether you just spontaneously need a car or book one in advance, all you need is a special sticker that you can attach to your driver's license, which is scanned by a card reader mounted on the car. When done with the car, simply return it to any free space within the car2go lot.
Moving the test to Austin will involve expanding the system's capabilities to a population much larger than the Ulm test market. With 750,000 occupants, Austin is about 750% the size of Ulm. Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said, "This pilot-program partnership between car2go and the City of Austin represents a significant step toward helping us alleviate congestion, reduce emissions and increase the use of public transportation."
The fleet of 200 cars is expected to launch this week. More vehicles will join the fleet in 2010, but initially only the city's 13,000 employees will be able to participate in the trial. Once the number of vehicles expands in 2010, the fleet will become available to all local residents and students.