Car-sharing company rolls into District

D.C. drivers can go for a spin using a new vehicle-sharing system that deployed 200 smart cars across the city last weekend.

car2go lets members pay hourly, daily or by the minute to rent a blue and white smart car, stationed throughout the District. Customers are not required to return the vehicles to specific locations.

Cars can be located through a mobile application, online or over the phone with a customer service representative. Vehicles cost 38 cents per minute, about $14 an hour and about $73 a day.

“There is no minimum amount of time that a car can be used – whether a member needs a car for 10 minutes or an entire day,” Katie Stafford, communications manger for car2go North America, said.

Customers can drive the 41-miles-per-gallon cars as far as they want, but the rental rate jumps to 45 cents per minute after an initial 150 miles. Renters are not required to refuel gas tanks. Drivers who stop for gas can enter the PIN number for their vehicle’s fuel card at the gas pump to receive credit once per rental if the tank was less than one-quarter full before arriving at the gas station.

car2go does not have specific stations for their vehicles, so drivers can leave the cars at any permitted parking spot, whether metered or residential.

“In previous car2go cities, we have seen a very natural ebb and flow of where cars are picked up and dropped off, and typically we do not need to relocate vehicles ourselves, it just happens naturally,” Stafford said.

The company’s eco-friendly vehicles are scattered in cities across the country – including San Diego, Portland, Ore. and Austin, Texas, as well as internationally, in Amsterdam and Berlin – to trim down the carbon footprint of public transportation in cities.

Stafford said while there is no student discount in place for car2go, the company would consider working with universities in the future “to make car sharing more flexible and convenient for their students.”

car2go increases competition for Zipcar, a similar car rental group that has a District fleet four times bigger.

Zipcar membership costs $15 with a GW discount, compared to the regular $25 application fee, in addition to a $60 annual charge. Its hourly rates range from $7.20 to $11.25 per hour.

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