Late last year we brought you news that the City of Austin, Texas, had launched a pilot of Daimler's resource sharing car2go program. Well, after a successful trial, this May the city will go public with the car-sharing system. The pilot began with a joint partnership between the City of Austin and Daimler where 200 smart fortwo vehicles were made available 24/7 within the city to a select group of city employees and their relatives. Now, the number of cars has been increased and all Austin residents and students can apply to utilize them.

car2go is a subsidiary of Daimler, whereby a fleet of environment-friendly smart fortwo vehicles are available for rent “on-demand,” and members may use the vehicle for as long as they like, without committing to a specific time to return the vehicle. Drivers don’t have to return or drop the car at a designated spot, rather, they can complete the rental in any available public parking space within the greater downtown Austin area or at one of the specially marked car2go spaces.

Based on the success of a similar program in Ulm, Germany, where 200 vehicles are rented 500 to 1,000 times per day by roughly 15,000 customers or 15 percent of the citizens who possess a driver’s license in Ulm, the Austin pilot program targeted 60,000 employees within a 17 square mile area in the city. The system allows users to book a vehicle in advance but the pilot showed that 90 percent of the participants took advantage of the unique offer to use car2go spontaneously and for one-way trips.

Under an agreement with the City of Austin, all car2go members are allowed to use on-street parking in Downtown Austin for free and, for the privilege, car2go is paying a usage fee to the City of Austin in the form of driving minutes for its employees’ business trips. As it has been such a success, car2go and the City of Austin will extend the partnership until November 2010.

Charges for using car2go are not based on distance, but on time – with rates starting by the minute and competitive hourly or daily rates available for those needing longer rental periods. The rates are all-inclusive, with the cost of all fuel, maintenance and insurance covered.

Austinites will have the opportunity to register for a car2go membership at the launch event, but can also pre-register online beginning April 21, 2010 and pick up their membership cards onsite at the event.

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