A new car-sharing company called Car2Go is rolling out 250 Smart Cars across Portland over the next few days. The company offers a new twist on other car-sharing programs already operating in Portland.
Car2Go is a subsidiary of the truck-maker Daimler North America. It leases its two-seater Smart Cars to customers on-demand and by the minute. It’s different from other car-sharing programs such as Zipcar or the new peer-to-peer service Getaround. That’s because drivers can use special software to find a car near them and make quick one-way trips. When they’re done with their trip, drivers can leave the cars in any legal parking space within a 34-square-mile area of the city.
Car2Go is launching the new service in Pioneer Square on Saturday. Company CEO Nicholas Cole said the fleet started making its way into customers’ neighborhoods last night.
“What we’ll do for the launch over the next two days building up to the launch on Saturday is we’re going to take a look at where folks who have preregistered to become members are and we’re going to put those cars in those areas where those people live and of course in Pioneer Square for the marketing event.”
Car2Go already operates in San Diego, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. But Portland car-sharing consultant David Brook says Portland has bragging rights over other cities because of its high number of car-shares per capita. And the many different car-sharing options.
“For a city our size we have a lot more car-sharing going on than any other city. Car2Go is a different animal than the classic Zipcar or even Getaround type car-sharing because of this one-way nature. It just allows a lot of flexibility for the trip type. That said, it’s only Smart Cars,” says Brook.
Brook said there might be some overlap among Portland’s car-sharing services. But each offers something a little different. While Smart Cars are great for short trips around town, for example, they wouldn’t be ideal for picking up furniture at Ikea or taking a longer trip to the coast.