Ford has joined the car-sharing fray in Europe using a different business model to other OEMs. Ford2Go is the first nationwide car-sharing program that incorporates dealerships. The program links Ford of Germany with the German Ford dealers association, FHD GmbH, and DB Rent, a Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) subsidiary that operates the Flinkster company car share program.
Ford2Go is being rolled out from the second quarter of 2013, with more than 500 cars expected to be made available from 50 dealerships by the end of the year.
Daimler service profitable
Earlier this year Daimler said its Car2go service, which started at as a pilot program in late 2008, had become profitable in three of the cities in which it operates and is targeted to achieve breakeven by 2014.
Operated in partnership with Europcar, Car2go now has more than 375,000 customers worldwide who use over 7,300 Smart ForTwo vehicles in 19 cities. This includes an EV only fleet in Amsterdam. It launched in the UK in London last December and earlier this month followed that up with a 250 car service Birmingham.
By the end of this year Daimler expects the worldwide fleet to exceed 10,000 cars. Future plans include expansion of the Car2go concept into the commercial fleet management sector as a means of increasing fleet capacity utilization into evenings and weekends. A pilot project is scheduled for later this year.
Underlining the significance of the venture, Daimler has moved Car2go into a newly formed Mobility Services Division, itself a subsidiary of the company's highly profitable Financial Services Division. The new unit also manages services for finding a parking space and comparing urban transport options and has a goal of generating annual revenue of €100 million by 2014.
Daimler acquired a minority stake at the end of 2012 in GottaPark, based in San Francisco-based, that enables drivers to book parking places online in nine cities in North America. It plans to launch its first European business with GottaPark this year.
BMW, Volkswagen compete
BMW launched its car share offering, DriveNow, in partnership with rental company Sixt in four cities in Germany in May 2011. It now has around 80,000 customers and plans to grow to 1 million by 2020. But DriveNow managing director Andreas Schaaf says it will limit expansion to focus on making money. For this year it is looking to add another location in Germany and another elsewhere in Europe.
Volkswagen, which piloted car-sharing in Germany in 1997, launched its station-based, round-trip service model Quicar in Hanover, Germany, in November 2011, providing 200 short-term rental vehicles across the city in 50 locations.
Volkswagen Financial Services, along with Dutch VW importer Pon Holdings, plans to take a 60 per cent stake in CollectCar, which operates Greenwheels Carsharing. Operating over 2,000 vehicles, this is the largest car-sharing provider in the Netherlands and also provides services in seven German cities.
Toyota bets on EVS
In France Toyota is partnering with the city of Grenoble to deploy a car-share program that will include around 70 Toyota EVs, including some based on the recently unveiled i-Road concept three-wheeler debuted at the Geneva auto show. Cite lib will operate the program, while Electricite de France (EDF) will install the charging network.
Toyota says the three-year program is part of its research into comprehensive car-sharing schemes to explore the utility and business feasibility of co-modality transport solutions. This complements Toyota's plans, announced last July, to launch a car-sharing service through affiliated car-rental outlets at approximately 1,200 locations across Japan.
PSA's early entrant "Mu by Peugeot" established its rental, which includes cars, scooters, vans and even bicycles in eight European cities, including Paris, Berlin, Madrid and London, and aim to expand the service to other European cities with 300,000 or more inhabitants by the end of 2013 as it strives for market leadership. Currently available at more than 90 sites in seven European countries, it is being rolled out at a rate of over 100 new sites each year.
Employing its quirky two person electric four wheeler, Renault's "Twizy Way" car-sharing program is scheduled to expand into big European metropolitan areas this year following an initial pilot scheme in the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines region near Paris.
Citroen owners can rent their vehicles to other people through the company's Multicity offering. Started in France last June, it has since been extended to Germany.
Citroen is the first OEM in Europe to adopt the P2P approach, which is similar to General Motors' RelayRides partnership in the United States. Previously the company developed a Web-based multi-modality journey planner. It says its sees car sharing as a way to attract potential customers who may decide to own a car in the future.