Ride-sharing service Car2Go is upgrading its Austin fleet.
In addition to its familiar blue-and-white Smart cars, the company said this week it is now giving its users the option of taking two different Mercedes-Benz models for a spin.
Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Car2Go are all subsidiaries of Germany’s Daimler AG.
The two new models – Mercedes-Benz’s four-door CLA coupe and five-door GLA SUV – have considerably more space than the Smart vehicles, according to James Emery, Car2Go’s Austin general manager.
Both can hold up to five passengers. That, the company says, should help broaden its customer base.
“While our membership is comprised of a wide range of different people, we see the highest concentration in the 25-35 age group,” Emery said. “However, we believe the addition of these new Mercedes-Benz Car2Gos will attract a whole new audience by offering use cases that weren’t possible with our two-seater Smart cars. Now that we are adding four-door vehicles, Car2Go will be a viable option for families, groups of friends and anyone in need of a bit more room for cargo.”
Austin is one of the first cities – along with Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Toronto; Vancouver; and Washington, D.C. – to get the Mercedes-Benz vehicles, which will eventually be rolled out nationwide, Car2Go said. To start, a total of 50 new vehicles will hit Austin’s streets: 25 CLAs and 25 GLAs.
“We needed to start somewhere. Austin was our very first North American city and is our North American headquarters, so it’s very near and dear to our hearts,” Emery said. “It’s a great city for innovation because the population is filled with tech-savvy early adopters. We’re thrilled with the adoption of one-way car-sharing that we’ve seen here.”
By the end of 2017, most of the Car2Go fleet will consist of the CLA and GLA models, although Emery said plans call for some Smart cars to continue to be available for use.
The Smart cars cost 41 cents per minute to use, while the new Mercedes-Benz models will cost 47 cents per minute, the company said. The full-day rate for a Smart car is $59, while the Mercedes-Benz full-day rate is $79.
The adjustments to Car2Go’s fleet come at a time when ride-hailing services are growing in popularity, both locally and nationally, but Emery says the two different kinds of services are more complementary than competitive.
“We really think of ourselves as a piece in the mobility puzzle,” he said. “There are times when public transportation is the most convenient way to get around and times when you need someone else to drive you. Car2Go is here for the moments you want the freedom and convenience of car ownership without the associated costs and responsibilities. The more options we have, the better. Ramping up competition just validates that car-sharing has moved from experiment to a very real industry with enormous potential.”
A survey from the University of California-Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center backs up that claim, Emery said. It found that each Car2Go vehicle can get up to 11 cars off city streets.
In the U.S. and Canada, the company says one of its vehicles is taken on a trip every three seconds.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.