The German car giant withdraws its pool of vehicles from the UK as Car2go project fails to gain significant traction

Daimler is withdrawing its Car2go car-sharing scheme from Britain as of tomorrow (Friday), citing "the UK's strong culture of private vehicle ownership" as the reason why the project hasn't worked in this country.

The city-based Car2go scheme – a collaboration between Daimler and Europcar – provides a pool of Smart Fortwo micro cars that can be accessed at any time by registered users.

Drivers locate vehicles using a smartphone app, access the cars via a card reader on the windscreen, pay for usage by the minute and are free to park the car anywhere within the city centre limits at the end of their rental.

The first pilot scheme was launched in Germany in 2008. It reached London in December 2012 and Birmingham in May 2013, the latter as a one-year trial. UK users paid 35p per minute to use the cars.

The scheme operated across three boroughs in London, and in a statement Car2go said it had encountered logistical difficulties in co-ordinating across the capital: "The unique challenges we encountered were more significant than expected".

The statement continued: "Car2go listened closely to customer feedback and taking the UK’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership into account, we have decided to withdraw from the UK market place. We’d like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has used Car2go in Birmingham and London.

"As the world’s largest free-floating carsharing provider, we will continue to observe the UK market for cultural changes towards the 'free-floating model'."

Despite the UK withdrawal, Car2go continues to operate successfully in 25 cities around the world, with more than 700,000 customers.

Earlier this year Daimler revealed plans to add the Mercedes-Benz B-class to the scheme in Germany under the 'Car2go black' banner.

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30 May 2014
I find it bizarre that its withdrawal is being blamed on "the UK's strong culture of private vehicle ownership". That's utterly contrary to the success of other car club schemes in the UK, which is essentially what car2go is. The issue is that local authorities will not give these 'one way trip' vehicles leniency to park where they need to (i.e. anywhere) around the city. It might have worked in Birmingham (just about) and would work in smaller towns and cities, but if you consider how complex London's parking rules are given that all boroughs vary, car2go was never going to be able to sew that altogether. Streetcar (now Zipcar) spent years getting individual agreements with each borough about the placement of its bays. The car2go model will succeed one day - it's just a bit ahead of its time.

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