Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One-Way Car Sharing

A nice article came across my Google Reader screen today, care of the SightLine Daily. The article talks about changes in the car-sharing world, with new business models being tried out and lots of new (and bigger, corporate-sized) players entering the market.

One of the things described is a new model being tried out in the car-sharing world: one-way sharing. This has already come to Vancouver, with "Car2Go", which has launched with a "join free" promotion.

Car2Go is basically like those bike-share programs so popular in many European cities: you see an empty vehicle, and you get in a drive away. No need to book. Return it to any "designated parking spot". You pay per minute of use, or up to $13/hour (which is quite a bit more than what Modo charges  - I pay $3/hour plus $0.25 /km as a member, and a more expensive "casual member" rate is $7.50/hour with 150 kms included). Looks like their insurance coverage is similar to Modo's - $5M in liability. I'm not really sure that the "return it to any spot" approach is really that useful; my way of using a car is to go somewhere to do something, and then come back to the same spot. It's nice if that spot is near my house. I can't really think of a scenario where I'd ditch the car halfway through a journey; seems too much like a spur-of-the-moment joy-ride kind of concept. Even Car2Go's own advertising sounds a lot like conventional car-sharing, with scenarios involving planned trips ("going to the Grouse Grind", a hot date, etc etc) - no different from any other car-sharing adverts I've seen.

Anyways, since the pickup/dropoff places for this service are all in Vancouver, I doubt I'll be making use of this anytime soon. There are no cars anywhere near me - and since I can't book ahead, I can't reserve a car to make sure it's there for me when I arrive. But it may be of interest to some. I guess if there were a fleet of these stationed around New Westminster I might join...

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