Daimler pilots new ‘car2go’ pool car scheme to ease city congestion
21 October 2008

Daimler and Smart are launching a scheme designed to provide a solution to inner-city traffic congestion and pollution.‘Car2go’ centres on a pool of Smart Fortwo cars, which will be available for hire to any eligible members of public at any time. The pilot scheme begins on 24 October and involves 50 cars available to Daimler’s 500 staff in Ulm, near Stuttgart. Analysis of the car2go trial will be used to fine-tune the project, which Daimler claims could be made available to the public within a year.Those wishing to use the cars must register to receive an electronic chip that is fitted to their driving licences. Used in conjunction with a unique PIN, these chips will unlock and start the car, and inform Daimler who is driving the vehicle and for how long.By using this system, registered drivers can literally get in and drive off in any available car2go Smart Fortwo without pre-booking and with no restrictions on how long they have the vehicle. An integrated navigation system allows the driver to contact the service centre in the event of any problems. Users are charged per minute, with cheaper rates if the car is kept for hours or days. The fee covers all costs, including fuel, insurance, taxes and maintenance.Cars can be reserved up to 24 hours in advance using phone or internet, and can also be reserved during any stops, such as shopping or work. When the driver is finished with the car it can be parked in any legal space in the city and registered as available. This allows another car2go user to simply get in the car and go, or for the scheme’s service team to pick the car up for cleaning, maintenance and refuelling. Special car2go spaces are also planned for airports and train stations.Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG described the project as “an intelligent and creative solution that provides a simple, flexible and value-for money approach to mobility with environmentally-friendly vehicles”.The project has been in development for less than a year at Daimler’s Business Innovation division, and the initial 50 cars will go into action with hire costs set at €0.19 (15 pence at current exchange rates) per minute. Assuming the initial project is successful, Daimler predicts that it will be less than a year before it has 500 cars available through the car2go scheme to the 110,000 members of public in Ulm.

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21 October 2008

They have a similar system in place in Paris, but with bikes. Every 300 yards or so, about 20 (weird looking) bikes are positioned in a bike rank, and the person pops €1 into the machine, parking it up and clicking it into place at another rank near to their destination somewhere else in the city. I reckon it's a good idea, and could do well in the UK were parking is often expensive.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

22 October 2008

Such a system has been proposed for Bristol. I'm not sure how they're going to deal with the hills though.

The bike schemes are usually funded by advertising, JCDecaux got an absolute bargain with the Velib scheme - access to a huge number of on-street advert spaces for a fraction of the normal cost. I have read a suggestion somewhere that the energy consumed by their illuminated adverts renders the environmental benefits of the scheme null and void, but I'd check that out before quoting it as fact...

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