As we reported last week, car makers are warming to car sharing. Daimler is leading the pack by actively making a business out of it. The European auto giant is aggressively expanding car2go, its car sharing subsidiary that uses exclusively one make of vehicle, Daimler's Smart cars.
Until very recently, car2go has remained small and stable in just four cities -- one each in the U.S. and Canada, and two in Europe. Daimler now says it plans to expand to 40 to 50 cities in Europe and several new U.S. locations based on the successful Austin, Texas pilot program.
Car2go will launch in San Diego next week, and just a few days ago, Daimler announced a a partnership with a European car rental car company to reach 40 to 50 cities. The companies did not set a timeline for the expansion in the release.
The one-way car sharing company works a little differently than its more well known rivals like ZipCar. Created in 2008, Daimler it has 1,100 vehicles in the four programs nationwide. By comparison, ZipCar has 2,100 vehicles just in the New York City area alone.
Under the U.S. plan in Austin, drivers can pick up and leave a car anywhere within the downtown area, not just the spot they started from. This, Daimler says, allows the cars to supplement public transportation. Drivers are charged by the minute or the mile, and can reserve a car by the phone or locate one using a map on the company's website.
The San Diego car2go will be a fleet of 300 all-electric cars at launch on November 2.
The European expansion will be the bulk of the company's growth. Daimler is launching a joint venture with rental company Europecar to facilitate expansion. Car2go is currently in Ulm and Hamburg, Germany. The next cities will be Lyons, France and Amsterdam. Earlier this year, BMW made a similar partnership with Sixt, a rental car company, to start a car sharing business in Berlin and Munich.