Where the Cars Are

car2go launched in Portland officially this past weekend.

I had the chance to go for a test drive this week with CEO Nicholas Cole. I won’t go into the system details, because Jonathan Maus and Dave Brook have both done excellent write-ups already.

The signal feature of the system is one-way, reservationless trips.

As I mentioned previously, I’m now a member of three car-sharing systems. Here’s how I’m thinking about using them:

car2go – I think this will probably compete for trips with relatively spontaneous mode choices, where I probably would have been deciding between bike and and transit in the past. Now I’ll have a 3rd choice, particularly when I’m carrying something heavy or bulky or when the weather is not great.

Zipcar – when I need certainty for arriving somewhere at a specific time. For example, when I have to demo our one of our larger Transit Appliance units, I often find myself making a Zipcar reservation.

Getaround (where you are renting someone else’s car) – I think I would primarily use this for trips that are planned well in advance (it takes some arranging to get access to the car) and probably for longer trips where the usually lower rates will matter. In practice, I’m likely to use this very infrequently since I can effectively do this already within my household (my partner makes me buy gas for her car, but doesn’t charge me an hourly fee!).

One of the things that fascinates me about car2go is the “park anywhere legal” (almost) aspect of the system. I’m do some additional research on this and will post about it in more depth later.

The other thing that fascinates the policy and technology geek in me is how the cars will disperse based on use and the technology to track them.

I saw my first car in the wild on Sunday morning while going to breakfast on N. Mississippi. On Sunday morning the map on car2go’s site showed a pretty good dispersal of cars in the core of the City. There are also several smart phone apps for the same kind of search.



4 responses to “Where the Cars Are”

  1. I’m pretty stoked about this. I think it will mainly be useful for me as a late night option when transit service is so infrequent. For example, I have two night classes at PSU that get out at 9:20pm. It is easy to take the bus there, but I often have to wait half an hour to catch the bus back. I’m hoping there will be a decent supply of car2gos (car2goes? cars2go?) available around campus so I can just drive home. It would only be about a 5-minute drive, so the cost would be comparable to the bus.

    I also anticipate using it when I have ridden my bike somewhere and then it starts raining like crazy. This way I can leave my bike locked up and take the car2go and retrieve the bike later. (Yes, I’m a fair-weather cyclist, deal with it).

    My one major suggestion for car2go is to put bike racks on their cars! I know it would be somewhat difficult to pull off, but I’m confident someone could figure out a rack that is permanently attached. I think that addition would provide such a huge benefit in a city like Portland.

  2. Sorry but all these systems have flaws and I don’t plan on getting rid of my car anytime soon to use them.

    Zipcar: Strict reservation policy and the fact that you have to return to the same space that you picked the car up from. Also pretty expensive rates if you plan on using it for more than a few hours.

    cars2go: The tiny Smart cars make this service useless for one of the main reasons why you would need a car in the first place: hauling stuff.

    Getaround: As if. I am not going to let people use my car and risk damage or use another person’s dirty car that might not be maintained very well.

    That being said, I rarely ever drive anymore except for odd weekend trips. The best way to get around the center city has been and will always be bicycle. Just invest in a good pair of rain pants.

  3. Reza, if you only drive on weekends, you can get rid of your car and rely on bike, transit and the 4th “car share” option: rent a car at PDX airport. A 48 hour rental (from Saturday morning to Sunday night) this weekend would cost you only $22 to $24 for a small car, plus gas, with unlimited miles.

    That’s about $45 total to drive to Mount Hood Meadows for the weekend, at today’s gas prices.

  4. Joseph E-

    $22 – $24 for the whole weekend? Does that include insurance? Which rental car agency? If it doesn’t include insurance, what’s the price with full insurance included?


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