What’s good for Ulm is good for Texas. That seems to be the logic behind Smart’s decision to launch a car sharing service in Austin, Texas, this fall.
The Car2Go program is almost identical to the one launched last October in Ulm, Germany, and somewhat similar to American programs like Zipcar. Users can find available cars online, and rent them by the hour or by the day. If your needs are quite specific, cars can be reserved via the web or phone.
We imagine the program will work in a similar fashion in Austin, although it’ll be interesting to see – with a population of 750,000, the Texas capitol is nearly 6 times as large as Ulm. Still, Smart believes Austin’s strong economy, pre-existing transit infrastructure, and large collegiate population makes it an ideal locale for the program.
Equally interesting are the 200 cars used in the program. Yes, they’re all Fortwos, but they’re also MHD models, meaning they’re equipped with a mild hybrid (or start/stop) system. Although this feature is already offered on European Smarts, it’s a new offering for the U.S, and may appear on production vehicles in short order.