Car2Go going official in Austin Texas

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A ZipCar

ZipCar accounts for more than half of car-sharing around the world, but German company Car2Go is starting up a program in Austin, TX. Image from Flickr.

Austin, Texas, will soon be seeing SmartCars in an entirely new light thanks to German company Car2Go. The car-sharing service will be expanding the year-old pilot program to all city and state officials in Austin. Car2Go is a car-sharing service that charges users by the minute for use of SmartCars, a model that is becoming increasingly popular in large cities.

How Car2Go works

Car2Go is a car-sharing system that places a large number of vehicles in an urban area. “Members” of Car2Go can then use their smart card to rent the cars by the minute. The Car2Go cars can be picked up and dropped off anywhere within the Car2Go area. At about 35 cents per minute of rental, the Car2Go system bridges the gap for urban residents that do not have a car, but occasionally have need of one.

Car2Go vs ZipCar

ZipCar is an American company, founded in 2000, that currently operates in 49 U.S. cities as well as Vancouver, Toronto and London. After acquiring Flexcar in 2007, Zipcar represents about 50 percent of car-sharing around the world. Much like Car2Go, ZipCar relies on “members” that use a membership card to unlock and rent ZipCars. ZipCar also has partnerships with many U.S. businesses and universities that help students and commuters time-share their vehicles.

Benefits of car sharing

Car2Go and ZipCar represent just two of the growing number of car-sharing services in the United States and around the world. Several large cities around the United States, including Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Buffalo, San Fransisco, Boulder, New York City, Denver, Salt Lake City, all have start-up car sharing networks. These car-sharing systems reduce congestion, increase flexibility, and tend to be much more environmentally friendly. Additionally, large fleets of vehicles like Car2Go and ZipCar tend to make use of hybrid and electric vehicles, dramatically increasing the overall fuel efficiency for hundreds of drivers in each city.

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