December 19, 2019

Car2Go Gone: I’ll miss my SmartCar

Sad news: Car2Go (ShareNow) is shutting down its North American operations (and pulling out of a few European cities like London and Florence).

The company cited operational costs and the lack of necessary infrastructure to support new technology, like electric vehicle car-sharing, for the decision.

The company says it has more than 230,000 users in Vancouver.

“Vancouver was really very, very attractive for Car2Go,” Gordon Price of the SFU Centre for Dialogue said. “We were the car-sharing capital of North America, maybe the world. It wasn’t true in the rest of North America.

We made the switch to car-share when we scrapped our car with an incentive from the Province – for a year of Car2Go!  Loved it, especially the SmartCar which could fit into those tiny left-over spaces in the West End.

Along with Evo and Modo, Car2Go was making a difference: Vancouverites in dense neighbourhoods were making the switch.  There was even sign of ‘share-turation’ on some blocks. (Hopefully, Evo and Modo can fill some of the void.)

Losing money over time is never a winning business strategy, but Daimler (Car2Go’s parent) strategy may have been to dominate the market prior to the availability of autonomous cars.  They got the timing wrong on that (indeed, it may be a lot longer before self-driving cars are seen in dense, complex cities) and are moving away from research and development of autonomous vehicles elsewhere.

It doesn’t always pay to be first.

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  1. Just how smart are these Germans?
    In 1998 they bought Chrysler for $36 billion.
    8 years later they dumped 80% of it for $7.4 billion.
    Chrysler, the lead balloon, tied up with Mercedes money pits.
    The losses on Car2Go are, comparatively, a trifle.

  2. Car2Go … Going … Gone.

    It’s not hard to see that the tech for autonomous vehicles is far from being real-life worthy, but not the lack of EV charging stations. One thing not tried yet is setting up exclusive EV car share stations with banks of chargers, like Mobi bike share stations. If Evo, Modo or any other car share company pays the city for the set up (power supply, code-lock chargers and road space lease), then what’s the problem?

    The companies could offer both free-roaming hybrid cars and EV stations in the most popular locales. In dense areas the car share memberships could be offered to specific local buildings, be tied to specific developments or entire blocks on an exclusive basis with a devoted fleet and limited address-oriented memberships. This would help limit the cost of private parking and therein the cost of apartments in a housing affordability crisis. Nearby West Enders will have convenient access to a bank of EVs just outside their door or down the street with pre-booking capability on their apps, and the ability to see who drove them last in case of damage or cleanliness issues.

    Car share requires a bit more evolution.

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