One of the world’s most successful car-sharing programs now features electric vehicles (EVs). Car2Go, available in Europe and the US, uses Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
cars in Stuttgart, Amsterdam, and San Diego.
Car2Go car sharing is available in many other American and European cities, although in most locations, it uses C-Smart combustion-engine cars along with electric ones. Only in San Diego is the fleet 100% electric, featuring 300 units and serving more than 12,000 users, who log an average of 5,500 trips per week.
Electric cars in San Diego.
While the Car2Go service uses a mix of combustion and electric vehicles, it has helped prove the EV concept to many urban drivers. Stuttgart, which now has the largest fleet of electric cars in the world at 500 units has become a “living lab” for the future of city automotive transit.
At the inauguration of Stuttgart’s Car2Go program in October 2012, state governor Winfried Kretschmann stated: “The project is an important milestone for us on the road to sustainable mobility. This collaborative project demonstrates once again how Baden-Württemberg, as the heartland of the automobile, is able to combine business and environmental protection in […] exemplary fashion as it again does justice to its leading position in the field of cutting-edge technologies and innovative mobility concepts.”
In line with the state governor’s claim, when you visit the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart you can review the most important moments in the history of German automaking and the fantastic achievements of Ferdinand Porsche, the genius behind the brand. Most people remember his famous early models, such as the Porsche 64, and the iconic 911, still in production 50 years later. It is not commonly known that Ferdinand Porsche, while working for Lohner industries, designed and built a fully electric car at the end of the 19th century, presented it at the 1900 Paris Exhibition, and won the best design prize at the expo. The car was expensive, heavy, and could only do 15 kph, but it was able to run for over 80 km on a single charge, a significant achievement at the time.
Lohner-Porche electric car, 1900.
(Source: Porsche Museum)
Now, 113 years later, it’s Daimler AG, where Porsche worked from 1906 to 1928, that has introduced the Smart ForTwo ED cars used in Car2Go.
The Car2Go’s main advantage over other car-sharing programs is the option of one-way trips, picking up the car at one location and leaving it somewhere else. Users are charged by the minute, not the hour. Depending on the city, they can leave the cars anywhere parking is permitted.
Similar to bike-sharing programs, a driver can check car availability near their location and reserve a vehicle for the next 30 minutes. If he or she doesn’t pick up the car in that time, the reservation expires and the car becomes available again. That gives the program its flexibility, because drivers can only reserve cars not currently in use.
Electric Car2Go models have a range of 84 miles (135 km) and on average they need to be recharged every two or three days. When the car’s battery goes below 30% of charge, drivers are encouraged to leave the car at a charging station. If they do, they don’t pay for the last 20 minutes of their rental.
The Car2Go program is spreading the word about electric car sharing. Barcelona is on track to introduce a similar vehicle-sharing program shortly, but with electric motorcycles. Let’s hope more car-sharing and motorbike-sharing programs join the EV trend, helping reduce traffic and pollution in our cities.
&emdash; Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant