1.8 million Hamburg residents – 300 smart fortwo – 1 small revolution


car2go launched in the first city with more than a million inhabitants. car2go is starting operations in Hamburg with 300 new “car2go edition” smart fortwo. The operator is car2go Hamburg GmbH, a joint venture between the Daimler subsidiary car2go GmbH and Europcar Autovermietung GmbH. The initial area of operation will cover the 65 square kilometres within “Ring 2”. Hamburg residents have been able to register for the mobility concept since the beginning of March and more than 1,000 of them have already done so – enabling them to get in and drive off anywhere and any time from now on. The vehicles can be spontaneously rented for a price of 29 Cents per minute, used for any length of time and then simply left again at any free public parking space within the area of operation. The vehicles used are the “car2go edition” of the two-seater smart equipped with state-of-the-art car sharing telematics and an innovative solar roof.

Following the successful launch of car2go in Ulm in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and in the Texan capital of Austin, Hamburg is the first city to see the roll out of car2go in the course of the international market launch. 300 “car2go edition” smart fortwo will initially take to the streets. Further expansion of the fleet is possible depending on the development of demand. The same applies to the operating area which will initially be limited to an enlarged approximately 65 square kilometres inner city area of the central Hamburg metropolitan area. This roughly corresponds to Hamburg’s “Ring 2” and comprises the popular residential districts around the Alster such as Eppendorf, Winterhude, Uhlenhorst and Rotherbaum, inner city districts including St. Pauli, Neustadt and Sternschanze and parts of Eimsbüttel and Altona. This area is particularly suitable for car2go on account of the population density and the expected demand for individual mobility. The smart fortwo deployed make optimum use of the parking space available.

Robert Henrich, Managing Director of car2go GmbH says “car2go is characterised by its unique flexibility and opportunity to use the vehicles spontaneously, making it ideal in combination with local public transport. After piloting the scheme in Ulm and Austin, Hamburg is the first city where we are launching this new environmentally friendly form of urban mobility on the market and here, too, we will demonstrate that a system like car2go can be financially successful in a large city.”

The citizens of Hamburg have already shown huge interest in the smart revolution. On 1 March the car2go shop opened at Jungfernstieg and saw a stream of interested customers right from the start. Nastasja Hebestriet, Managing Director of the joint venture company enthusiastically reports “Even before it was possible to rent a car considerably more than 1,000 Hamburg citizens registered for car2go.” Those interested can register at either the car2go shop or at six Europcar offices in Hamburg.

Using synergies
The shareholders in the joint venture company that was founded are the Daimler subsidiary car2go GmbH and the Hamburg-based Europcar Autovermietung GmbH, which holds a majority share of 75 percent. The cooperation offers both partners numerous advantages. For example, car2go can benefit from Europcar’s extensive expertise in fleet management and logistics and can also use the partner’s wide network of offices to offer customers further points where they can register and obtain advice in addition to the dedicated car2go shop.

Roland Keppler, Chairman of the Management Board of Europcar Autovermietung GmbH says “car2go and Europcar provide the citizens of Hamburg with comprehensive mobility options for every requirement. car2go covers flexible individual urban mobility and Europcar offers vehicles for travelling longer distances with a fleet ranging from small cars to cabriolets and vans.”

The citizens of Hamburg profit from this combination as car2go customers enjoy numerous benefits at Europcar. For example, the first 15 minutes of a journey to a Europcar branch are free with car2go if the customer has booked a car there, e.g. for a longer trip. In addition, car2go customers receive substantial discounts on the rental fee.

The reinvention of inner city mobility
Independence from rental stations, simple access and the straightforward and purely time-based charging for any length of use are the main features of car2go which distinguish this mobility concept from classic car rental and car sharing and are so far unique in this form. Registered customers can access the vehicles spontaneously and without a reservation and at the end of the rental period they simply leave them in any public parking space with an unlimited parking duration, including managed parking spaces or those requiring a parking disc. Parking meters and the blue parking disc can be ignored as parking fees are included in the rental fee, determined automatically by car2go Hamburg GmbH and paid to the city. To reduce the time spent searching for a parking space, car2go is additionally providing a total of 116 exclusive specially designated parking spaces in four selected car parks (for example at the main station and Bleichenhof), and at eight Shell filling stations. Use of these parking spaces is also included in the rental fee. This means that not only driving, but also parking is really easy and worry-free for customers.

The rental fee in Hamburg will be 29 Cents per minute with a maximum of 14.90 Euro per hour; the cheaper of the two is always automatically charged. This all-inclusive price includes fuel, insurance, kilometres driven, taxes and parking charges. There is a one-off registration fee of 29 Euro. After this customers do not have to pay any kind of deposit, monthly or annual fee but only for the time that they actually use the vehicle. Customers can register at the car2go shop at Jungfernstieg 50, at six Hamburg Europcar offices or via the website www.car2go-hamburg.com. However, they must visit the shop or one of the selected Europcar offices to have the car2go seal applied to their driving licence.

As in Ulm and Austin, the new smart fortwo “car2go edition” will take to the streets of Hamburg. The world’s first series-produced car sharing car is equipped with an economical petrol engine, an automatic start/stop system, a new generation of telematics and a solar roof. At its heart is a new central control unit with a large touch-sensitive 6.5 inch screen. This also has space for the car key and chip cards – for example for refuelling. The telematic unit is linked to the vehicle electronics, which means that it also controls the immobiliser subject to the rental process.

A solar roof is also a standard feature and it supplies power of 100 watts to the telematics as well as continuously charging the car’s battery. This allows the alternator to be fully decoupled whilst driving and noticeably reduces the fuel consumption. If the vehicle is parked in the sun the smart’s ventilation system is operated by solar power. This can noticeably reduce the temperature inside the car – enhancing comfort and benefiting the environment as the air conditioning does not need to work as hard.

In Ulm the 500,000th car2go rental has just coincided with the 2-year anniversary of public operation. Ulm sees an average of between four and eight vehicle rentals every day. This figure is expected to be exceeded in Hamburg, first and foremost due to the greater customer density. To date more than 35,000 customers have used the 600 vehicles in the two car2go cities of Ulm and Austin – and due to the high customer demand expansion of the vehicle fleet there started three weeks ago. The launch of the scheme in Hamburg means that there are now 900 car2go vehicles on the roads worldwide. But that’s not a final figure for this year. Robert Henrich says “We will definitely be launching car2go in further cities in Europe and North America in 2011.” The next city will be on the American continent, followed by another European country in the second half of 2011. Further cities will follow from 2012.