Daimler and Europcar launch car2go in Hamburg


car2go, Daimler’s new mobility concept, will be launched in Hamburg in spring 2011, as announced today in the Hanseatic city by the Daimler subsidiary car2go GmbH and Hamburg-based Europcar Autovermietung GmbH. From spring 2011, the citizens of Hamburg will also be able to “get in and drive off anywhere, at any time”. Initially there will be 300 smart fortwo vehicles for the car2go scheme in the Hanseatic city. The cars being used are two-seater smart car2go edition models equipped with highly sophisticated carsharing telematics and a solar roof – fresh from their world premiere at the Paris Motor Show. The two companies have joined forces to establish car2go Hamburg GmbH – their own operating company, in which Europcar has a majority stake.

Following the successful launch of car2go in Ulm (Baden-Württemberg, Germany) and Austin, the capital of Texas (USA), Hamburg is the first city in which car2go is being introduced as part of the planned international market launch. The launch is scheduled for the end of the first quarter in 2011, starting with 300 vehicles. The fleet will then be further expanded if there is enough demand. The First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Christoph Ahlhaus, welcomes the new mobility concept:

“I am pleased that we are the world’s first city of over one million inhabitants to introduce car2go. The people in Hamburg are traditionally very open to new ideas – and I am therefore confident that car2go will be a great success for Hamburg and its citizens.”

The city’s Senator for Urban Development and the Environment, Anja Hajduk, adds:

“Those who have trouble finding a parking space every day, those who live near a main traffic thoroughfare and those who are stuck in traffic during the rush hour know that it makes sense to reduce the amount of car traffic in the city. A service like this, offering an alternative to using one’s own car, helps us to achieve this aim. car2go is a good option for people who mostly use other forms of transport but still want to use a car from time to time. car2go can play an important part in making Hamburg’s traffic more environmentally compatible and more suitable for urban life. The scheme has arrived right on cue, as Hamburg is the European Green Capital.”

Individual mobility without compromise
Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, emphasises the link with the company’s strategic orientation:

“With car2go, Daimler aims to develop a further answer to the challenges of urban transport. 125 years after we invented the motor car, we are underlining our innovation leadership in the urban-mobility domain by expanding our highly respected concept. Additionally, car2go offers an ideal platform for new propulsion technology such as the electric drive.”

The new partner of car2go, Hamburg-based company Europcar Autovermietung GmbH, will have a majority 75-percent stake in the joint venture car2go Hamburg GmbH, which was formed specifically for this purpose. The partnership offers both partners far-reaching advantages: car2go can benefit from Europcar’s vast expertise in terms of fleet management and logistics as well as using its partner’s extensive network of branches to offer customers further places to register for the scheme alongside its own car2go Shop.

The CEO of Europcar Groupe, Philippe Guillemot, is likewise convinced of the scheme and declares:

“We at Europcar are convinced that this launch marks the beginning of a new era in urban mobility: an era of car mobility on demand. It combines the best of both worlds: the freedom and comfort of a personal car and the benefits of public transportation, on an ultra personal level. As people discover the simplicity and convenience of this service, we see it becoming a very attractive lifestyle option for them. We are essentially enabling this new lifestyle service and we see it as very complementary to our car rental services.”

“The partnership generates synergies for both partners and offers the citizens of Hamburg a wide choice of mobility options for practically any occasion,” says Roland Keppler, CEO of Europcar Autovermietung GmbH: “Together car2go and Europcar offer the perfect mobility service for large, modern cities: spontaneous mobility for short trips with car2go combined with the extensive vehicle fleet – ranging from compact cars to trucks for longer routes and rental periods – available from Europcar. We are networking urban individual transport with our nationwide mobility services for Europcar customers.”

car2go is based on an idea of the Daimler “Business Innovation” department. Its aims are to identify profitable growth opportunities along the value chain and then tap into these for the company. Dr Martin Zimmermann, Vice President Strategy, Alliances & Business Innovation at Daimler AG:

“Business Innovation is our fresh ‘nucleus for new business ideas’. Our tasks also include demonstrating innovative responses to the challenges presented by the automotive markets of tomorrow. Both apply to car2go. This is an attractive business model that also offers an innovative mobility solution.”

To date, car2go has proven a resounding success in Ulm, Germany and the Texan capital Austin: In Ulm, 20,000 customers currently use the 200 smart fortwo cdi’s, which will be replaced in the fourth quarter of 2010 with 300 of the new car2go edition smart fortwo mhd’s. Since the end of March 2009 when the service was launched to the public, almost 350,000 journeys have been made, and more than 4 million kilometres travelled. One of the system’s major advantages – the fact that customers can spontaneously make one-way journeys around the city – has proved very popular: nine out of ten rentals end at a different location from where they started. Customers can start and end their rental wherever they choose, and use the car for as long or as short a time as they like.In Austin, car2go has been exceptionally well received, too: Just over four months since launching the program to the public in May 2010, car2go has reached 10,000 registered members with more than 80,000 rentals completed.

car2go has already received several awards because of its innovative and environmentally-friendly features. In addition to the “2010 EPA Clean Air Excellence Award” given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the programme last month received the “Clean Tech Media Award” in the category of “Mobility” in Berlin.

“More than 30,000 customers in just two cities and our experiences in these two cities confirm to us that car2go has successfully passed the acid test,” says Robert Henrich, Managing Director of car2go GmbH. “We are pleased to now be establishing car2go in Hamburg together with a strong partner and are confident that car2go will also be very popular here. At the same time, we are preparing for the international market launch in further major cities and will develop a suitable business model for each of these cities.”

Free parking anywhere
The operating area in which the car2go vehicles can be rented either spontaneously or by booking in advance will initially cover Hamburg’s central zone – an area of around 65 square kilometres (25 square miles). The zone essentially stretches as far as the Hanseatic city’s ring road no. 2 (“Ring 2”) and includes the popular residential areas around the Alster such as Eppendorf, Winterhude, Uhlenhorst and Rotherbaum, inner city areas such as St. Pauli, Neustadt and Sternschanze, as well as parts of the Eimsbüttel and Altona districts. This area is especially suitable for car2go, as the population density and demand for individual mobility here are higher than average and, in addition to this, the smart cars make optimum use of the available parking areas.

In contrast to station-based carsharing and vehicle-rental businesses, car2go vehicles can be found and rented immediately by customers throughout the entire operating area – without the need for reservation. At the end of the rental, the vehicles can be parked in any public parking space that offers unlimited parking. Additionally, the cars can be parked on city-managed car parks and parking spaces which require a parking disc without having to pay & display, feed the parking meter, or display the blue parking disc. These parking charges are included in the rental price. car2go Hamburg GmbH calculates the cost automatically and then pays the money to the city of Hamburg. car2go also provides a large number of marked parking spaces in selected privately owned car parks, which can only be used by car2go drivers, so that customers don’t have to wait to find a parking space. The cost for praking in those garages is also included in the rental price. Parking a car2go is just as easy and hassle-free for the customers as the driving.

The rental price in Hamburg will be 29 euro cents per minute or a maximum of 14.90 euros per hour. Customers are always offered the cheapest available tariff. This all-inclusive price includes fuel, insurance, mileage covered, taxes and all parking charges. Customers have to pay a one-off registration fee of 29 euros, following which there is no further deposit to pay, no minimum spend, and no monthly or annual fee – customers just pay for the time they use the cars. Registered car2go customers also benefit from special rates each time they rent a vehicle from Europcar.

State-of-the-art vehicle technology
The smart car2go edition used in Hamburg is the world’s first series-produced carsharing model to be available ex factory. All of the cars are equipped with a consumption-optimised petrol engine, automatic start/stop system, a newly developed telematics generation and a solar roof. At the heart of the smart car2go edition is the new central control panel with a large, 6.5-inch touch-sensitive screen. It also houses the vehicle key and up to four chip cards – for refuelling and entering multi-storey car parks, for example. The telematics unit is networked with the vehicle’s electronic system and can control features such as the immobiliser, depending on the rental process.

The solar roof, which is a standard feature has an output of 100 Watt power. The solar energy produced in this way is used to supply power to the telematics, and also to continually charge the car’s battery. This allows the alternator to be decoupled whilst driving, thus tangibly reducing fuel consumption. In addition, if the vehicle is parked in the sun, solar energy is used to power the ventilation system, which can reduce the temperature in the interior by up to 18 °C. This not only adds to the comfort when a customer gets into the car in summer or in southern climes, but also reduces the burden on the environment, because the air-conditioning system needs to expend considerably less energy to cool the car down, thus reducing fuel consumption.

Source: Daimler (press release/media site)