CHENGDU, China -- Daimler's Car2Go car-sharing unit will have more than 1 million registered users by the end of the year, a company executive said.
The subsidiary currently has 900,000 users across 29 cities in Europe and North America, Rainer Becker, head of business development for Asia Pacific at Daimler's mobility arm, Moovel, operator of Car2Go, told an audience at Michelin’s Challenge Bibendum conference here this week.
Car2Go's global fleet is made up of 12,000 Smart ForTwo microcars, 1,200 of which are full electric vehicles, that users can pick up and park anywhere within a specific urban zone.
Daimler wants to extend Car2Go to China as part of a plan to increase its penetration by more than 70 percent to 50 cities by the end of 2016, Becker told the conference.
“China might be risky, but it also brings lots of opportunities,” he said.
Becker gave no time frame to launch Car2Go in the country but said the company was talking to individual cities, without naming them.
He said the company would be prepared to operate a fleet of battery-powered Smarts if asked to by city governments. “We would consider it if the business case is positive,” he said. Car2Go offers EV ForTwos in three cities, including Amsterdam.
Car2Go has yet to make a profit, Becker told Automotive News Europe, but is moving closer. “It’s starting to be financially viable,” he said. “In some of the cities we are profitable.”
Car2Go started as pilot program in Ulm, southern Germany, in late 2008. Regular operations began in the city by early 2010.
The service pulled out of the UK earlier this year after launching in London in 2012 and Birmingham in 2013.
"The unique challenges we encountered were more significant than expected," the company said in a statement at the time.
It blamed the UK’s strong car-ownership culture and also said that getting local governments to agree to offer ‘free-floating’ parking proved difficult. “It illustrated our seriousness about making money,” Becker said of the pullout.
Rival car-share company DriveNow, run by BMW Group and Sixt, said in August it was profitable in cities where the scheme has been operating a year or more, but overall was losing money.
DriveNow’s fleet includes models from BMW’s Mini brand as well as the BMW 1-series compact hatchback and the X1 compact SUV.
The company plans to increase the number of cities it operates in to 25 over the next five years. Membership stood at 300,000 at August, Erich Sixt, CEO of the car-rental company, said this summer.