If you’ve ever seen a smart car zipping around town, it can be hard not to point and laugh. Let’s be real – they look like clown cars thanks to their super compact size. But a new service called car2go is actually making smart cars look cool thanks to their technology forward user experience.
Car2go allows users to rent smart cars by the minute. The car2go concept is different that ZipCar, which makes users rent vehicles by the hour or the day. ZipCars must be picked up and returned to the same place, while car2go smart cars can be parked and picked up anywhere in a designated downtown area.
Here’s where the exceptional user experience comes in. Drivers must apply for a car2go membership and receive a card in the mail before they can drive a car. Once a driver has an account their card in hand, they can download a car2go app that finds all of the available cars within the local car2go area. Drivers can even tap each car icon to preview how much gas a car has in it, and if the exterior / interior is clean and ready to drive. To choose a car, drivers can reserve from within the app. As long as they get to car within 15 minutes, they won’t be charged an extra fee.
Drivers unlock the car by placing their card on top of a sensor, which unlocks the door. Once inside, the driver must punch in a 4 digit PIN to activate the car. Once the driver reaches their destination, they can choose to take the key with them (and keep running up their tab), or leave the car parked for someone else to pick up.
Car2go is a concept that has been exported from Europe, where it launched in 2008. Car2go’s parent company is Daimler, which both manufactures the vehicles and manages the collaborative consumption service. According to Daimler’s website, more than 120,000 customers as of July 2012 have now registered for car2go in fourteen cities in Europe and North America with more than two million rentals of smart vehicles.
In American car2go is available in Austin, TX, Washington D.C., San Diego, CA, Miami, FL, and Portland, OR. 6,000 people have registered for car2go’s Portland membership since the company debuted in the city over the summer.
My family uses car2go each day for running errands in the city, and it has saved us a lot of time and money. Read more about my personal experience here.