Germany Explores a New Method of Car Rental

Imagine a taxi service, but without the driver. That’s the idea behind Car2Go, an experimental business being tested in the German city of Ulm.

Those who subscribe to the service have a chip attached to their driver’s license. They are charged 25 cents a minute, $12.81 an hour, or $63.00 per day for the use of one of the diesel Smart Cars. The fee covers all the costs of the car including fuel and maintenance.

What makes Car2Go different is that there is no need to return a car when the driver is done with it. They can simply leave the car anywhere in the city for someone else to use, or the service can return the car to the lot itself. The GPS can also be used by Car2Go subscribers to track down nearby cars for their use by computer, phone, or PDA. For those needing a guaranteed car, the Smart Cars can also be reserved.

Ulm is 40 miles south of Stuttgart, the headquarters of Daimler. The test of Car2Go will last another six months but others are already catching on. Paris is planning to introduce a much bigger system similar to Car2Go called AutoLib in 2010. At the end of Car2Go’s six months, the business will decide whether to renew or not.

Source: New York Times