I’m no fan of owning a car if you live in a city. To me, public transport should be an affordable, regular and clean alternative to car-ownership for those who live in busy urban areas. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case, certainly in the UK anyway. So I’m a big supporter of car clubs schemes, like Zipcar. You sign up, reserve your car and only pay for the time that you use.
Great! Except for one problem which has always been a frustration for me with the car share model – you have to bring the car back to its parking spot. So you can’t make an A to B trip. You always have to do A to B, then back to A again. Until now…
Enter new car club players, Car2Go, who have a shiny fleet of blue and white smartcars in key cities across the USA and Canada and have their sights on the UK next. It’s the same concept – you join and pay for the time you use – except with Car2Go you don’t make reservations in advance and you can drop the car off anywhere in the city that’s either a registered spot or a residents’ parking bay.
Instant game changer. I love it. You download their app, click to see where the nearest car is, tap a reservation option which holds it for 15 minutes (so someone doesn’t nab it while you’re walking there) and that’s that. Drive to where you need to go. Park and sign out. That’s all you pay for. Genius.
I trialled the service this week and put it through its paces. It’s a simple to understand log-in system, just hold your card to the window and magically the car unlocks. Then tap in your PIN and that releases the ignition key. There’s an in-car navigation system so you don’t get lost and there’s 24-hour support by phone from the car too if you get in trouble.
At this point, yes, I know I sound like a big ol’ advert, but it’s a great idea for city folks who want to get around but don’t want the expense and hassle of owning a car. So how did it perform? 10 out of 10 all-round. I picked up my friend Niamh from the airport on Sunday; she had two suitcases, both fitted easily into the boot. I went off up Grouse Mountain for a day trip, I took the bus to the supermarket, but drove a Car2Go back with my shopping. I even used it to whizz into town for drinks and of course, that meant I only had to take a cab back rather than both ways - so much cheaper. I can already see that Car2Go will be one of my most-used apps in Vancouver – and best of all – I can use it in other cities too. Oh! And yesterday, I was out walking and found two of the Car2Go team valeting the cars – you report on the interior and exterior condition of the car on each trip – if it gets dirty, it gets cleaned. Love it! Keep an eye on the site or sign up to see when it hits the UK.
Thanks to Car2Go for giving me a free trial. I’m now a fully signed-up member and part-time cheerleader for the service. It’s great. As ever – my views are 100% my own.