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June 12, 2009

car2go: Daimler's Innovative Mobility Concept is Coming to the USA

U.S. pilot phase is slated for start in fall 2009 with fleet of 200 smart fortwo vehicles as internal pilot for specific users.

Smart fortwo


Photo: smart fortwo passion coupe rally red with black "tridion".

Smart fortwo


Photo: smart fortwo passion coupe blue metallic with silver "tridion".

Smart fortwo


Photo: smart fortwo passion coupe with rear bike rack.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the vehicle in the United States, smart USA Distributor LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group, Inc., is planting a tree in recognition of each of the smart fortwos sold in 2008. In partnership with American Forests and Daimler Financial Services, smart USA will plant trees in the Cache River State Natural Area, located in southern Illinois, about 150 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. smart USA plans to continue this initiative for every vehicle sold in 2009.

Smart fortwo NYC


Earlier, smart USA Distributor LLC announced an agreement with Central Parking System, Inc. in New York City, which offers half-price parking for smart fortwo owners in Manhattan. With this latest partnership, four New York City companies are now offering discounted parking for smart fortwo owners -- Central Parking; Meyers Parking and Icon Parking Systems facilities in Manhattan; and AviStar Airport Parking, which has lots at both JFK and LaGuardia Airports.

Central Parking System, Inc. has more than 350 parking lots and garages in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and New Jersey, and is the largest parking company in the area.

Car2Go Austin


Photo: car2go goes Texas.

Meanwhile, Daimler AG announced in Ulm, Germany, that it will bring its innovative car2go mobility concept to the U.S. by fall of this year. The first international pilot will start in the Texas capital Austin with an initial fleet of about 200 fuel-efficient smart fortwo cars. car2go provides a simple, flexible, and cost-effective solution for city driving.

The car2go concept is based on a fleet of smart fortwo vehicles that are available for rent to registered members at any time, 24/7.

"The results of the first, internal pilot phase in Ulm demonstrate that, with car2go, we have found an additional answer to current and future mobility needs in urban areas - our project in Austin is the next logical step," comments Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and for Development of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Contrary to traditional car-sharing programs, car2go offers the freedom to get in a car and drive at any time of day without reserving a car in advance. The vehicle can then be used for as long as required and returned to any available parking location within the defined area of operation - a mobility solution offering maximum flexibility.

"We are delighted to be chosen as the first international partner for car2go," says Austin Mayor Will Wynn. "Our city is well-known for its commitment to environmental issues and car2go is a perfect fit because it enables us to offer the citizens of Austin an intelligent mobility concept with an extremely positive environmental angle. The project has my full support."

Austin Texas


Photo: car2go in Austin, Texas (Texas State Capitol in the background).

The goal of the Austin pilot project is to gather practical experience toward the international implementation of car2go. Initial challenges include its transferability to other cities, languages and mobility trends, as well as the adaptation of its business processes to the legal frameworks that exist in different countries. "We made a very conscious decision to go to a North American city," adds Jérome Guillen, Director of Daimler's Business Innovation Department, where car2go was developed. "The car-sharing market in the U.S. is enjoying the highest growth rate in the world, which is why we feel that this is also a very good opportunity for car2go."

"Reducing congestion, lowering emissions and providing innovative transit solutions are vital to Austin's commitment to becoming the best managed city in America," said City Manager Marc Ott. "I am proud of Austin's commitment to identifying and implementing progressive solutions to the challenges of urban mobility and environmental sustainability. This car-share program provides one more option to address some of our urban transportation challenges."

Austin Texas

Photo: Austin, Texas, USA, Central Business District at night.

The capital of Texas with its 750,000 residents is distinguished by its open-mindedness and its very involved citizens. The positive attitude of the City administration, size and structure of the city, which boasts a progressive economic environment and is also home to one of the largest universities in the U.S., were important factors that led to the selection of Austin as the first international car2go city. The smart fortwo will take to the streets here in fall of 2009. In Austin car2go will start, like in Germany, as an internal pilot for specific users, e.g. employees for the city of Austin. But it will be extended to the public, if successful. The car2go project in Austin includes not only the vehicles, but also the associated personnel and technical infrastructure. Support from the City of Austin is integral to the success of this pilot program. This is an opportunity to establish a true public-private partnership to work together to ensure the city is a showcase for urban mobility solutions.

As Daimler further explains, the innovative car2go mobility concept was designed to foster individual urban mobility while using environmentally-friendly vehicles. Members can access a car2go from any location within a defined city area at any time of day or night.

Following the one-time registration, the car2go customer will receive a membership card that will unlock the vehicle. Customers will be able to use the car2go vehicle in a number of different ways. Available vehicles can be rented on the spur of a moment: to access the vehicle, the car2go member simply holds his membership card to the reading device located in the windscreen, climbs into the car, enters his PIN code and drives off. Vehicles can also be located quickly and easily via the internet or through the car2go service hotline. The system also allows members to make reservations up to 24 hours in advance, with customers being notified via text message about the location of the reserved vehicle.

The car2go rental period can be as long as desired and the vehicle remains reserved for the customer during stop-offs. When the customer wishes to return his car2go, he simply leaves the vehicle in a parking spot within the defined car2go city area. Any space not subject to parking fees or restrictions may be used - such as those along the side of the road or within designated parking areas. Furthermore, specially marked car2go parking spaces will be available at special locations such as train stations.

A car2go service team on the ground will handle daily maintenance of the vehicles. Billing is handled with the same degree of simplicity and flexibility as for every aspect of car2go - with rates by the minute, by the hour, or by the day. Pricing is all-inclusive: taxes, insurance, miles and gas.

The first phase of the German pilot project car2go will begin in Austin with a defined group of users (city employees, for example). It is then planned to make car2go accessible to the public in Austin in the second step.

Smart Fortwo


Americans are faced with volatile fuel prices, increased urban congestion and a mindset of environmental responsibility. The smart fortwo offers a high level of comfort, agility, safety and ecology. Despite its compact dimensions, the smart fortwo offers the driver and passenger remarkable freedom of movement equal to or greater than some larger cars. This vehicle concept is highly practical - especially for people who live in cities or urban areas. Many Americans drive with just a single occupant. The size of the smart fortwo allows for faster movements in cities and one does not need to search for a large parking space.

Source: Daimler AG, Stuttgart, Germany.

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 5:51 AM | Link to this Post

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