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.



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