April 11th, 2012 | by COREY PEIN News | Posted In: Business, Transportation, Tech, Environment

Where Did All These Tiny Cars Come From All Of A Sudden?

car2go
Those white-and-blue Smartcars you might've seen all over town belong to a new car-sharing service (yes, another one) run by Daimler, the German car company, called Car2Go.

There's been some conspiratorial interest in this service over at Jack Bogdanski's blog, and a bit of wonkish speculation about its market niche over at Chris Smith's Portland Transport.

The service launched on April 3. Its website on Monday showed 135 cars in Portland; Daimler says 200 will be available.

Basically, Car2Go works like Zipcar except that instead of returning the vehicle to a designated parking spot, you can drop it off wherever you like inside a certain "home area."

In Portland, that home area is a trapezoid from Northwest 23rd Avenue and Northwest Wilson Street, down to the Sellwood Bridge and State Highway 99E, bounded on the east by Interstate-205 and to the north by Northeast Killingsworth Street.

Smith's blog posts Car2Go's city permit (pdf), which shows it's paying the Portland Bureau of Transportation $1,009 per year per car for the privilege of letting customers leave them in metered spaces without paying.

Also unlike Zipcar, which bills hourly and charges a monthly subscription fee, Car2Go bills per minute. However, strictly by the hour, Car2Go's rental fee can be slightly higher than its competitors'.

Two downsides are evident without a test drive:

1.) Car2Go's mobile apps for finding and reserving vehicles seem a little hinky compared to Zipcar's.

2.) Smartcars aren't quite built for an Ikea run. Or a Costco run, for that matter.

Remarkably, Car2Go is the second new carsharing service to launch in Portland so far this year—the first was Getaround, a "peer to peer" service—and the fifth total, according to the city.
 
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