City car-sharing schemes have become more popular in recent years as the cost of owning a car rockets, but until now they’ve focused on traditional gasoline-engined cars.
Not any more. The City of San Diego has just become the first North American city to host a carsharing scheme made up entirely of tiny two-seat electric cars.
Ran by car2go, a subsidiary of Daimler North America, the scheme will give all members access to 300 Smart ForTwo electric drive cars spread throughout the city, eliminating the worry of owning a car but giving them all the freedom.
Payment is handled through an automated system, which also tracks the location and state of charge of each car. Registered members can then find out the location of the nearest car via an array of smart phone apps or using the car2go website.
While the diminutive Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is probably not the first electric car that consumers think of buying when looking for a new car, its tiny dimensions, high seating position and go-cart like qualities make it ideal for inner city travel.
It’s a view shared by Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of Smart. “Right from the beginning, the Smart ForTwo was designed for electric drive and that shows. I love driving the smart electric drive and I am convinced that the car2go members in California will enjoy using this forward technology to get around their home town San Diego.”
But what about the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive’s 84 mile range per charge? And what about recharging?
That’s not a problem, according to car2go. Apparently the distance covered by car2go members in other schemes throughout the U.S. is rarely above 6 miles per trip, meaning that the all-electric smarts could provide at least 14 average rental trips throughout a day.
And if the cars need charging, car2go members will be able to use one of the 1,000 charging stations currently being installed in the San Diego area by charging station provider Ecotality.
With such a limited market appeal car, Daimler’s decision to push its all-electric smart into service in the car2go scheme is a stroke of genius.
Not only does it allow the automaker to put large numbers of the car through severe testing at the hands of the general public, but it helps to get the cars noticed in an electric car world dominated by the likes of Nissan and Chevrolet.