With distinctive "smart" electrical and telematics systems and a solar roof, the Daimler-developed Car2go sharing system is set to make its presence felt on the roads of Europe and North America after launching commercially in Hamburg last April.
||Rise of the smart, shared car.
The car is also operated in Germany's Ulm (where it underwent experimentation and development in 2008) and in Austin in the US.
The car combines a near-hybrid operational system with low cost journeys and convenience.
Opportunities for automotive electronics parts and components suppliers are clear, with the "sharing system" beginning to take root as motorists in large cities aim to lower fuel and maintenance costs.
The joint venture that developed the car, consisting of Daimler's Car2go unit and Hamburg-based Europcar Autovermietung benefit from Europcar's extensive experience in fleet management and logistics.
Users also take advantage of Europcar's wide network of offices providing customers with points of registration and information.
Car2go aims for flexible, individual urban mobility while Europcar also offers vehicles for travelling longer distances, with a fleet ranging from small vehicles to vans.
Hamburg's Car2go customers have specific benefits. For example, the first 15 minutes of a journey to a Europcar branch are free if the customer has booked a car there. Car2go customers also receive substantial discounts on the rental fee.
Independence from rental stations, simple access and straightforward, time-based charging for any length of use are the main features of Car2go. That distinguishes this concept from the usual car rental and car sharing services.
Registered customers can access the vehicles at any time and without a reservation. At the end of the rental period they simply leave the car in any public parking space for an unlimited time. Parking fees are included in the rental fee.
The rental in Hamburg is Euros0.29 per minute with a maximum of Euros14.9 per hour, with the cheaper of the two always automatically charged. The all-inclusive price includes fuel, insurance, kilometres driven, taxes and parking charges.
There is a one-off registration fee of Euros29, after which customers don't have to pay any kind of deposit, monthly or annual fee - only for the time that they actually use the vehicle.
The new smart Fortwo Car2go is equipped with a petrol engine, an automatic start and stop system, a new generation of telematics and a solar roof.
At its heart is a new central control unit with a large touch-sensitive 6.5 inch screen. The car also has customised key and chip cards for refuelling.
The telematic unit is linked to the vehicle's electronics, which means that it also controls the immobiliser that's subject to the rental process.
A solar roof is also a standard feature and supplies 100 watts of power to the telematics while continuously charging the car's battery. This allows the alternator to be fully decoupled when driving and noticeably reduces fuel consumption.
If the vehicle is parked in the sun the smart ventilation system goes into operation, using solar power. This reduces the temperature inside the car, and benefiting the environment.
Currently Car2go has over 2,000 vehicles, more than 50,000 customers and over 1,000 orders per day worldwide.
from Stefanie Gemein, Frankfurt Office
(Image courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/leongoedhart)