car2go, the car-sharing service that began in Ulm, Germany in 2008 before spreading to Austin, Texas, Hamburg, Germany and Vancouver, Canada, has now announced it will launch a service in San Diego that will be the first car-sharing program in North America with a 100 percent electric vehicle fleet. The San Diego car2go program is due to start operations before the end of 2011 with 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles.

The existing car2go services in the aforementioned four cities already boast over 40,000 members and 1,000 smart fortwo vehicles powered by low-emission gas engines. The electric vehicles headed to the streets of San Diego will instead be driven by a 30 kW electric motor powered by high-efficiency lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged at designated EV charging stations, including the Blink EV charging stations recently announced for select IKEA stores across the U.S. Approximately 1,000 Blink commercial charging stations are expected to be installed by the end of 2011 for public use in San Diego.

On a single battery charge the smart fortwo EVs can travel up to 84 miles (135 km) and will recharge from 20 to 80 percent of full battery capacity in three and a half hours. A full recharge from a completely discharged battery is accomplished in under eight hours. Daimler, of which car2go is a subsidiary, says that previous experience has shown that complete recharges are seldom necessary as the daily distance covered by car2go drivers in urban areas rarely exceeds six miles (10 km).

Unlike traditional car-sharing programs, the existing car2go services aren't station-based, but rather offer a free-floating service that allows members to pick up and drop off a vehicle at one of the specially marked car2go parking spaces located throughout the service area. Members, who pay a one-off registration fee, don't need to commit to a specific return time or location with charges based on minutes used.

Although the specific parking and charging details of the San Diego car2go service are yet to be announced, they are expected to follow this model. These details, along with the service area, will be announced in the near future - as will the start of customer registrations.

"The launch of an all electric vehicle fleet marks a new era in car-sharing in North America," said Nicholas Cole, President and CEO of car2go at a news conference earlier this week. "Our goal is to complement the existing transportation infrastructure by providing an emission- free car-sharing service for short and spontaneous one-way trips."

A similar all-electric car2go service has previously been announced for Amsterdam that is also due to commence before the end of 2011.

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