Car2go recently announced that it has expanded into Chicago, where it now has 400 vehicles available — the smart fortwo and Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA models. Kendell Kelton, the Communications Manager for Car2go North America, answered some questions about the expansion for CleanTechnica.
Why did you choose Chicago as a location, and why 400 cars to start?
Chicago is ideally suited for free-floating carshare. It should be noted that Chicago is the third most densely populated city in America, and among all Car2go U.S. cities, Chicago has the third lowest rate of personal car ownership and the third highest rate of public transit use. Further proof that Chicago is perfect for carshare.
Regarding the fleet count, the pilot approved by the city capped the vehicle limit to 500. At this moment, Car2go is operating with a 400-vehicle fleet for Chicagoans to share while we gauge demand and have the ability to scale up an additional 100, if needed. We have 200 smart fortwos, 113 Mercedes-Benz CLA, and 87 Mercedes-Benz GLA vehicles currently available.
Who is your target audience?
Car2go was created to provide automobile transportation for people who live in urban cores, where private vehicle ownership is very expensive and inconvenient.
Do you test markets before launching and if so, how do you do that?
We work closely with cities to establish pilot programs that ultimately inform free-floating carshare regulations. In Chicago’s case, we are currently in a city-approved pilot that extends through June 2019. At that point, we will work with the city to determine next steps.
Do you have a service center for repairs in each city?
Yes, we work with local business’ to service our vehicles, as needed.
How do you measure success the success of a carsharing program?
After launching in a new city, we constantly evaluate our operations, including Home Area size, the utilization of our service by members, membership growth and have the ability to expand into other parts of the city where we see demand for our service.
If it is successful in Chicago, might you add more cars there?
We have the ability to scale up, but this is a question ultimately for city political stakeholders to answer, but we expect that the pilot will be evaluated by the city for its effectiveness in helping Chicagoans get from point A to point B easily and affordably.
What problem or problems does carsharing solve in a major metro area like Chicago?
Car2go brings numerous economic and quality of life benefits to the cities in which we operate. In 2016, the University of California Berkeley released a study showing that each Car2go vehicle removes up to 11 other vehicles from the road, and that Car2go’s free-float carshare model cuts traffic congestion, reduces air pollution and integrates with other transit and transportation options, thereby helping to move more people, more efficiently. We also provide access without the downsides of city car ownership. This helps Car2go members save money that they otherwise would have spent on buying or maintaining a car of their own. It should be noted that the average cost of car ownership per AAA is $8,469, while the average cost of using car2go per year is only $3,898. That’s a savings of over $4.5K. As a reminder, members don’t have to worry about paying for fuel, insurance, maintenance, or parking at approved spots within our Home Area.
Is carsharing something that appeals mainly to business people or people who decide to not own their own cars, or both?
Both. Car2go serves as an extremely affordable alternative to owning a vehicle, providing access to a car for individuals of almost all income levels and businesses who are looking for a more flexible mobility solution for its workforce.
Featured image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica