Car2Go, a subsidiary of automotive giant Daimler AG, is hiring staff and preparing to launch in Brooklyn after more than a year of negotiations with the city, bringing point-to-point car-share to NYC for the first time. Car2Go will also be the first car-share company in the city to store its vehicles on the street, though the specifics of the arrangement with the city, such as the price the company will pay for curb access, have yet to be made public.
What differentiates Car2Go from other car-share services in New York is that users can make one-way trips. (Zipcar, a competitor, is getting into the one-way car-share game in other cities, but does not currently offer the service here.) The added flexibility could entice more car-owning New Yorkers to give up their private vehicles, though it’s tough to say whether this effect will outweigh the additional driving trips made by households without cars, which are the majority in NYC.
The other intriguing aspect of Car2Go is that its fleet of Smart Cars will be stored on the street. To close out a one-way trip, members must park on the street anywhere within the Car2Go service area. These zones are usually quite large: The company says it’s looking to cover Brooklyn before expanding to other boroughs. (It’s not clear whether the service will ever come to Manhattan, where transit coverage is superb, cabs are plentiful, and competition for curb space is most intense.)
Since the vehicles are located curbside, the company has to work out a host of issues with the city. “New York is not unique,” said Car2Go business development manager Josh Moskowitz. “There’s street sweeping, there are meters, there are rush hour restrictions.” Car2Go operates in 15 cities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as 12 European cities. In each, the company reached an agreement with the local government and prohibits users from parking 24 hours before street sweeping or in an area with rush hour restrictions.
One of the downsides to these agreements is that they mask the cost of metered spaces from customers, who are allowed to park in those spaces as if they are free because Car2Go compensates cities for foregone meter revenue. A Car2Go customer can end a one-way trip by parking in a metered spot without paying extra. While another customer might soon drive that car away, the practice still raises questions about how Car2Go vehicles will affect curb occupancy and traffic congestion in commercial areas.
Car2Go has been in on-again, off-again negotiations with DOT for more than a year. Although there’s no official word of a deal, the company has started the launch process by hiring a marketing manager and a fleet supervisor in Brooklyn.
So when will Car2Go launch? “We don’t have any rough timelines right now,” Moskowitz said. “We’re moving closer.”
Update: “DOT has had preliminary conversations with Car2Go regarding their service,” said a DOT spokesperson. “There have been no formal negotiations and no agreement has been reached between Car2Go and DOT for a Car2Go launch within New York City.”