Daimler is Reducing the Burden on Cities
car2go is making a tangible contribution to reducing traffic and esmiisons in city centres. But there are still issues with the availability of parking spaces.
What input would you like to see from local authorities to make carsharing more popular?Thomas Beermann: Free-floating carsharing is a great opportunity for cities. Every large city that we have spoken to has more or less the same three problems, namely traffic density, air pollution and a lack of parking spaces. The service provided by car2go offers proven relief for all these problems. Some authorities are fully aware of this, others are still lagging behind. Especially in Italy many authorities are very progressive when it comes to finding solutions to these problems.
Areas where cities can help us include parking regulations and access restrictions. A hot topic, for example, is the question of residents’ parking. We frequently receive complaints from people who contend that they are allowed to park their own car in front of their house, but that a neighbour who uses car2go and has no car of their own should not be allowed to. We view this somewhat differently, of course. Clear policies are needed in every city in which we are active. The carsharing law that is currently under discussion in Germany has the potential to be an important framework.
How many car2go vehicles are currently on the road?
Currently, there are more than 14,000 car2go vehicles in 26 cities. On average, each vehicle is used between six and eight times a day. Our most successful location in Madrid even sees averages of 15 times. The more often vehicles are used, the less often they are taking up valuable parking spaces. And the more people use our vehicles, the fewer private cars there will be in the cities. That’s why our strategic focus is on increasing the capacity utilisation of the vehicles.
Is car2go not a competitor to public transport?
We consider our carsharing service to be an addition to urban traffic that works as part of a closely integrated system with other operators, and particularly public transport. And this is reflected in our users, who use car2go intelligently in combination with other services. Sometimes the car is the best way to get from A to B, and sometimes it’s the metro. It depends on many factors: what time of day am I travelling? Is there currently a traffic jam in the city? Do I have any luggage with me? What is the weather like? The list goes on.
So far, car2go has mainly used smart cars. Will this continue to be the case?
In Germany car2go is already using Mercedes-Benz cars at all locations except Stuttgart. This is the result of clear feedback from our customers, who occasionally would have liked a bigger car, and this will be the future direction we take. We will have a good mix of smart and Mercedes-Benz cars, but the right mix may vary a little between locations. The Mercedes-Benz cars have undoubtedly been very well received by our customers. A rollout in other locations such as Vienna and North America is planned for the first quarter.
What role dies electromobility play?
We’re already the largest provider of free-floating electric carsharing. In Stuttgart, Amsterdam and Madrid we have electric-only fleets of more than 1,300 electric smart cars. The electric vehicle segment is of key strategic importance to us. In the long term we see the future of carsharing as purely electrically powered, but there needs to be a considerable expansion of the charging station infrastructure in many cities to achieve this. The experience we have already gained in operating electric fleets is our greatest asset. No other company has better knowledge of how to implement this commercially.
A study by the University of California, Berkely shows that car2go can help reduce car ownership. Is there similar research for Germany or Europe? Over the past year a number of similar studies have been carried out in Milan, Munich, Vienna and other cities. Fundamentally, they all come to the conclusion that, on average, every carsharing vehicle replaces six to eight private vehicles. Either the users don’t buy a car as they had planned to, or they sell their old vehicle. It’s small and old vehicles, in particular, that are removed from our roads.
What is the age structure of car2go customers?
The typical car2go customer is male, around 30 years old and well educated, which is a very interesting target group. Especially when you consider that they’re also likely to be the potential Mercedes-Benz buyers of tomorrow. A simple calculation highlights the marketing value of car2go for Mercedes-Benz as a brand: if we rented out 300 Mercedes-Benz cars in Berlin around eight times per day on average, then that would equal 2,400 test drives daily by a highly attractive target group.