Although Car2go hasn’t reached every major city yet, there is probably some type of car sharing service available in your local metropolitan. Whether it’s Zipcar or some other service, the idea of car sharing has really taken off over the past couple years. I’m pretty intrigued by the whole idea because less cars on the road is better for the environment and traffic congestion. This is pretty important for a city like San Diego with millions of people and no viable public transportation options.
When I saw a groupon deal for a Car2go membership and 60 minutes of drive time last month I jumped on it. So far I’ve used it a few times and I really like it. I don’t think it has saved me a ton of money since I still have my car but it has definitely saved me a lot of time.
How Does it Work?
The idea of car sharing is simple. If you take a group of 100 drivers, the odds of them all driving at the same time are pretty unlikely. Even during peak times like driving to and from work, most people go in anywhere between 7-10 am and leave from 3-7 pm. That leaves a whole lot of cars just sitting around idle during most of the day.
Car2go has a fleet of electric cars that are randomly placed across the city and you can reserve one anytime you need it. You can make your reservation up to 30 minutes ahead of time through their smartphone app or by going online to their website. The best part about Car2go is that you don’t need to make a round trip. You can take the car to your destination and leave it there or keep it on hold(if you’ll be quick). The flexibility of being able to pick up or end your trip anywhere within their driving area is what separates Car2go from other car sharing services.
Some highlights of the Car2go service:
- There is a one time sign up fee of $35(but they are constantly selling groupons and holding promotions that make membership free)
- Car2go costs 38 cents a mile and it gets cheaper the longer you rent. Hourly max is $13.99 and daily max is $72.99
- Insurance is included in the per mile cost but the minimum age for drivers is 19
- Currently available in Austin, San Diego, Washington DC, Portland & Miami in the United States
- Currently available in Vancouver, Toronto & Calgary in Canada
My Experience with Car2go
I live in a metro area with malls, restaurants and shops everywhere, so there are usually 5-10 car2go’s within walking distance at all times. There are about 12,500 members and 300 cars in the city so the ratio is pretty favorable for drivers. I’ve never had problems finding a car2go and a couple of my friends who are members tell me the same thing.
Last week I wanted to go out with a couple friends downtown and I knew that I would be in no condition to drive home at the end of the night. I figured I’d be able to get a ride home or split a cab so this was the perfect time to use car2go to get to my friend’s apartment downtown. Luckily there was a car2go right outside my condo so I reserved it about 15 minutes before I was ready to leave.
Each Car2go member is given a key card that you use to unlock the car and once you enter your PIN, your drive begins. I normally drive a big SUV so it’s kind of fun zipping around in a tiny smart car. They get up to about 70 mph which is pretty good for an electric car. I found a metered spot right in front of my friend’s building downtown so I parked it and the whole trip only cost me $5.32(14 minutes of drive time).
Where to Park the Damn Car!
I usually hate driving downtown because parking is a PITA. Most spots are metered and most lots charge anywhere from $5-$20 to park. The great thing about Car2go though is that you can park in any metered spot for free. You can also fit into a lot more spots since the car is almost half the length of a normal car. Car2go has about 10 designated parking spots all over downtown but I haven’t needed to use one yet, I’ve always been able to find convenient parking on the street.
You definitely have to be careful though when parking the car2go because there are some restrictions on the type of spots you can park in. For example, you can’t park in 30 minutes or less spots and you can’t park in a meter that has parking restrictions within 24 hours. There’s a whole list of restrictions but it’s pretty easy to remember once you get going.
Benefits of Car2go
Like I said, Car2go hasn’t saved me a ton of money but it’s definitely saved me a lot of time. Since the service is still in it’s infancy, the driving area hasn’t expanded to all the areas of San Diego I drive to on a regular basis. I think the real monetary benefit of Car2go comes when you’re able to eliminate a car from your family and save on insurance. I pay over $1,000 a year for insurance on my car so that would mean over 2,600 minutes of drive time with Car2go.
It’s definitely a great option for younger drivers(minimum age is 19) since their insurance costs tend to be higher. And since everyone pays the same rate, older drivers are effectively subsidizing the rate for younger drivers(kind of the opposite of how medical premiums work). There is a $1,000 deductible though that you should be aware of since this is higher than the average deductible.
As you can tell, I’m really excited for the future of Car2go. I probably won’t be able to get rid of my car altogether, but if gas keeps going up and their driving area keeps expanding, it might make financial sense to switch. For now though, it’s great for those quick one way trips downtown or when I’m in a jam and need a car.
Readers, have you tried a car sharing service like Car2go before? When do you think it’s most beneficial to use Car2go?
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