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.
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