Sharing is Caring
New car-sharing service launches in Texas city
The company, car2go, debuted in Ulm, Germany. It's similar in concept to other car-sharing services, which provide area-wide vehicles that customers can book in advance via phone or Internet and pick up for use without any human contact whatsoever (think Zipcar). What's different, though -- at least in car2go's Austin test run -- is that expenses such as gas are included, not to mention the fact that thanks to a usage-fee-based agreement with the city of Austin, parking within city limits is free for car2go vehicles. (In the opening stages of the program, car2go car's are available only to employees of the city, though the program is to be open to all Austin citizens in 2010.)
The decision to open the program in Austin was based on that city's attributes -- it's a university town that is heavily science-oriented -- which are similar to those of Ulm, where the program got its start.
Also unique to car2go is the method by which customers enter the vehicle. Rather than picking up keys, each customer's license is embedded with a microchip; the customer simply holds his license up to the windshield and a reader scans the chip and unlocks the car. This helps facilitate spontaneous or on-the-go car pickups, which the company found during its German test run accounted for 90 percent of its business.
There are no joining fees, and customers are billed monthly based on usage.
You can find more about the company at its Web site.
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