smart and car2go

This blogpost is neither sponsored nor requested by smart or car2go. I just want to write down my opinion about the car, the new mobility concept and the new lifestyle it represents. I’ve been driving around a lot in a smart within the last year. Here are my experiences:

smart

The smart is the perfect car for the city. I am living in Hamburg now for more than four years and within the last year I was able to borrow a smart from my bosses at elbdudler. It is pretty useful to have such a smart to share. Every time someone in the agency needs the car, he or she can borrow it.

The smart is small, it is compact and the space is limited but there is more than enough space for two people and luggage for one week. But the size is the perfect advantage for the urban space. Almost every time and everywhere you can find a spot where the smart fits in-between. And sometimes you can also park the smart crossways to the parking spots.

Last year I was invited by smart to attend a brand workshop, I reported here. We got the chance to test different smarts: the cabriolet, the smart Brabus, and the electric drive also cabriolet.

I really fell in love with the electric drive cabriolet. In my opinion it is a car for the future. Right now there are not enough places to reload electric cars, but I guess and hope that soon there will be spots all around the city.

Last weekend Malte and I used a rental smart cabriolet to get from spot to spot during our Cave Away trip. It was brilliant. It is pure luxury to press a button and the rooftop opens.

car2go

Since last April Hamburg has a new mobility system: car2go. It is the car sharing supplier for Hamburg. car2go was already successful in Ulm and Austin, Texas and it just started in Vancouver. The system is really easy, all you need to do is register online for the car2go membership and then you need to get a RFID-sticker for you driving license. And then you can rent a car.

car2go offers 300 smarts in Hamburg, almost on every corner you see one AND jump inside. The process is foolproof. You need to hold the sticker on your driving license infront of a sensor on the windshield. When you enter the smart, you need to enter a PIN code. Then you can take the key, start the engine and drive around. You can park everywhere within the operating area. Outside you can’t leave the car, you need to rent it until you park it within the operating area.

I was invited to attend the launch of car2go in Hamburg. They explained the system and invited us for a first test drive. (And I was able to get the registration for free!) Alex, the @probefahrer (test driver), was also invited. We tested car2go together. You can read his blogpost (German) about car2go in Austin, where he was also invited. It describes the system pretty well.

When you register for car2go, you need to pay 29,00 €. And then you just pay what you consume: the first three minutes are for free, then 0,29 € per minute (max. 14,90 per hour). Everything is included: gas, service, taxes, insurance, parking fees. The price is appropriate. For a 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) you need 10 minutes, so you pay 2,00-2,50 € – which is as almost much as a train or bus ride. So, if you are two people you already save money. You pay via credit card or via debiting from your bank account.

Not perfect

But there are also two things I would like to criticize. First, the operating area is not really perfect. I am living right next to the university hospital of Hamburg (UKE). And one of the most important hospitals is not inside the operating area. I don’t think I only see this as a negative thing because I live also not within the operating area. I need to park the car down the street, maybe 50 meters. But I think not including the university hospital was a bad choice: for patients, for vistors and for the staff.

But what really bothers me is the other thing: you don’t see two things when you rent the car. You have a navigation system inside, which is pretty nice, but it doesn’t show if you leave the operating area or not. You only realize it when you want to park the car, it tells you that you can’t stop the rent there.
And you can’t see how long you’ve been renting the car. You need to pay attention at what time you started the rent and then when you end it, but this is not exact. Until now I wasn’t able to remember the starting time when I leave the car. it would be so easy to include a timer into the navigation system. I really don’t get it, why it is not there.

Please car2go, change these three things and the service would be … perfect!

API

A good thing is also the API (application programming interface). car2go offers the API, so others can program apps and other things for the use of car2go. For the iPhone I am using get2car. You can see the next rentable cars and the condition of the car (gas, cleanliness). You can make reservations and see the next gas stations, where you can refuel the car (if you do it, you get 20 minutes renting time credited).

It would be pretty useful, if you could log into your car2go account and see your latest rentals, the costs and such. If you know/use a better app, please tell me.

Conclusion

I enjoy driving smart and using car2go. Two things, which are going into the right direction – the future of mobility, at least for bigger cities. Hopefully all the car sharing suppliers, like DriveNow (BMW) in Munich, or the soon starting Quicar (VW) in Hannover, will design a concept so I don’t need three stickers on my driving license. I just want to go to Munich, hold my car2g0 sticker on a Mini windshield and be able to rent it. That would improve mobility and travelling a lot.

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1 Comment

  • Jay B.

    I live in Vancouver were they just launched this service. I haven’t tried it yet but according to your review it looks more than simple, thank you. It’s just pity they don’t offer any other model of car. Yes, smart is great in a city but sometimes you really need something bigger. Then you are forced to be a member and use other car-sharing service.

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smart and car2go