car2go launches in Hamburg, Amsterdam to follow
By Darren Quick
April 12, 2011
Daimler's car2go car sharing service kicked off in Ulm, Germany in October 2008 before expanding to Austin, Texas in 2010. Earlier this month, Hamburg, Germany, became the first city with more than a million inhabitants to see the introduction of the car2go service, but the second won't be far behind with a launch set for Amsterdam before the end of the year. One point of difference for the Amsterdam fleet is that the 300 strong fleet will consist purely of electric drive smart fortwo vehicles.
Hamburg's car20go fleet will initially be limited to an inner city area covering roughly 65 square km (25 square miles) with further expansion of the operating area and additions to the initial 300 "car2go edition" smart fortwo vehicles possible depending on demand for the service.
The "car2go edition" is the world's first series-produced car sharing car and comes equipped with a petrol engine, automatic start/stop system and new generation telematics that is linked to the vehicle electronics. There's also a solar roof, which supplies 100 watts of power to the telematics system, as well as operating the car's ventilation system and continuously recharging the car's battery. Daimler says this allows the alternator to be fully decoupled while driving to noticeably reduce fuel consumption.
"After piloting the scheme in Ulm and Austin, Hamburg is the first city where we are launching this new environmentally friendly form of urban mobility on the market and here, too, we will demonstrate that a system like car2go can be financially successful in a large city," said car2go CEO, Robert Henrich.
The car2go fleet that is due to start operations in Amsterdam before the end of 2011 will consist of 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles. This will make Amsterdam the home to the first 100 percent electric vehicle car2go fleet, and one of the first large scale pure electric vehicle car sharing fleets in the world. Around 300 public charging stations are expected to be installed in the city by the end of 2011, increasing to 1,000 by the end of 2012.
"car2go is aiming to complement the existing transport systems by providing a service for short and spontaneous one-way trips," says Henrich. "We see ourselves not as a competition to other means of transport, but as another puzzle piece in the mix of Amsterdam's different means of urban transportation."
The company says that, to date, more than 35,000 customers have used the 600 vehicles available in Ulm and Austin. Ulm sees an average of around four and eight vehicle rentals a day and the service racking up its 500,000th rental in Ulm around two years after its launch there. The company says that it expects to exceed those figures in Hamburg due to the city's higher population density.
Although Amsterdam is set to see the introduction of car2go before the end of the year, an as yet unnamed North American city is set to beat it to the punch. The only details so far are that car2go plans to launch next in a city on the American continent, before launching in Amsterdam in the second half of 2011. Further cities will follow in 2012.