German car-sharing service car2go said Friday that it will launch next month in Chicago.
The on-demand car borrowing service will add to a market that already includes competitors Maven and Zipcar in the Windy City.
car2go touts that it is different from some competitors because it doesn’t charge monthly or annual fees, and lets drivers pick up a car and return it at any one of several approved parking spaces all over the area. A customer may pick up a car from one parking space, where the last customer left it, but can return it to a different parking space that’s convenient. The company calls this a “free-floating” model for pick up and return.
“Chicagoans will be able to make one-way trips without having to pick up or return car2go vehicles at fixed locations or by a certain time,” the company says in a press release. “Members have instantaneous access to a fleet of several hundred shared vehicles and can conveniently end their trip in any approved space within car2go’s Home Area, including residential permit areas and car2go designated parking spaces.”
car2go says it is also different from other carsharing companies because it doesn’t charge customers monthly or annual fees.
car2go said it will begin operating with a network of 400 cars starting July 25.
The company also touts as an advantage the fact that customers only pay for as long as they’re using the car – borrowers can get cars and pay by the minute, the hour or the day. And there are no fuel charges beyond what the customer puts in the car.
“The introduction of car2go in Chicago is an exciting moment in the evolution of our city’s transportation ecosystem, promoting lifestyles that no longer require private car ownership and providing new momentum to our expanding sharing economy,” said Dr. Joseph P. Schwieterman, Director and Professor for the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “One of the most significant benefits of free-floating carshare is the reduction in the number of cars – upwards of 11 privately owned vehicles per car2go – that currently clog our Chicago neighborhoods.”
Chicago is car2go’s 24th city. In the U.S., it already operates in Austin; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; New York; Portland; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. It also operates in four Canadian cities in addition to European cities.