Autonomous Vehicles
December 19, 2019

Car2Go Gone: I’ll miss my SmartCar

Sad news: Car2Go (ShareNow) is shutting down its North American operations (and pulling out of a few European cities like London and Florence).

The company cited operational costs and the lack of necessary infrastructure to support new technology, like electric vehicle car-sharing, for the decision.

The company says it has more than 230,000 users in Vancouver.

“Vancouver was really very, very attractive for Car2Go,” Gordon Price of the SFU Centre for Dialogue said. “We were the car-sharing capital of North America, maybe the world. It wasn’t true in the rest of North America.

We made the switch to car-share when we scrapped our car with an incentive from the Province – for a year of Car2Go!  Loved it, especially the SmartCar which could fit into those tiny left-over spaces in the West End.

Along with Evo and Modo, Car2Go was making a difference: Vancouverites in dense neighbourhoods were making the switch.  There was even sign of ‘share-turation’ on some blocks. (Hopefully, Evo and Modo can fill some of the void.)

Losing money over time is never a winning business strategy, but Daimler (Car2Go’s parent) strategy may have been to dominate the market prior to the availability of autonomous cars.  They got the timing wrong on that (indeed, it may be a lot longer before self-driving cars are seen in dense, complex cities) and are moving away from research and development of autonomous vehicles elsewhere.

It doesn’t always pay to be first.

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Vancouver, get ready.

Via Dianna

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

San Francisco will allow 750 more electric rental scooters onto the streets Sunday as the second phase of a pilot program rolls out.

That brings the total number of scooters allowed in the city to 3,250. It’s a mark of cautious approval for a clean but controversial technology, which still leaves people worried about illegal sidewalk riding and injuries. …

Two months into San Francisco’s pilot program, Supervisor Aaron Peskin cautiously voiced support.

“I would say so far, not bad, compared to ‘scootergeddon’ of last year,” Peskin said, comparing the unregulated scooters that swarmed city streets in spring 2018 to an apocalypse. “Although there is still some sidewalk riding and still some injuries, all in all the rollout has been going well.” …

A May report from Boston Consulting Group found that scooter companies are hardpressed to make money: The devices have an average life span of three months, but companies need four months to break even per device. Longerlasting batteries may help.

The report also forecast consolidation in the industry, and that is indeed happening. In June, Bird bought Scoot, a San Francisco company, and its coveted city permit. …

“We don’t know whether these jobs are going to exist five or 10 years down the road, whether scooters are a passing fad,” said Doug Bloch, political director for Teamsters.

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Ian Robertson notes: “Sounds exactly like the Transit Service Provider you’ve written about.”

Augsburg has the first German city to introduce a mobility flat rate. For a fixed monthly fee starting at €79, residents of the city will be able to gain full access to a range of mobility services.

Alongside public transport services, Augsburg has been offering car sharing and rental bikes. This municipal utility now combines the offers and centralises them in a nationwide unique flat rate. …

The scheme is the outcome of a year-long test phase conducted by Augsburg Stadtwerke. The city has long been endeavouring to attract more people to use public transport, including plans to make all trams and buses within the ‘City Zone’ free to use from 2020 onwards.

Ian is right: Augsburg has become a TSP, providing “Mobility as a Service” (Maas) as part of the New Mobility.  All kinds of names for more or less the same thing.

It’s important to note that TransLink is taking the initial step as well:

We are excited to say we are partnering with with Evo Car ShareModo Co-operative, and Mobi by Shaw Go bike share to help make multimodal travel easier, more convenient and more seamless for residents in Metro Vancouver.

It’s a trial program at the moment – specifically the  Shared Mobility Pilot Program.   But it’s important than the public agency is taking the lead, because it’s only a matter of time before the big private sector players maker their moves.  (Is that Amazon I see?)

 

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