Smart Cars, HourCar, ZipCar coming soon to City of Lakes

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 11, 2013 - 6:48 AM

On-street spots will be available to several vendors, including Hourcar.

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The HOURCAR that Tome Altenhoff had reserved time on was parked in a lot off Nicollet Ave., near downtown, reflected in the car's window.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Car sharing is coming to the streets of Minneapolis.

The City Council signed off Friday on a two-year pilot program that will let several car-sharing companies leave vehicles at on-street parking spots.

City leaders hope that raising the number of vehicles and bringing them out in the open — shared cars now live in private ramps — will convince more city residents to ditch their own vehicles.

The expanded car sharing could begin this summer, according to Transportation Committee chairwoman Sandy Colvin Roy.

The city’s original plan granted on-street spots exclusively to a German company, Car2Go, which specializes in two-seat Smart Cars. Customers of a local car sharing company, Hourcar, which has been seeking the same privilege for years, hammered city leaders on social media for the decision.

The grass-roots campaign paid off. On Friday, Council Members Robert Lilligren and Betsy Hodges amended the pilot on-street program to include multiple vendors. The other companies that had expressed interest were Hertz on Demand and Zipcar.

The companies have different models. Customers of Car2Go, for example, will likely be able to leave the cars in whichever on-street spot they wish, allowing for more one-way usage. Hourcar, on the other hand, will likely have specific spots designated around the city.

Colvin Roy said the companies will reimburse the city for use of street right-of-way, which will offset lost parking revenue. Those details must be determined in the final contracts.

Hourcar, which uses primarily Toyota Priuses, may expand to 70 cars. Car2Go, which does not currently have a Minneapolis operation, is proposing a fleet of 250 cars.

“This is a really huge innovation,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak, who noted several cities that are outpacing Minneapolis on car sharing. “They’re doing it at a scale that will work for this city. They’re doing it at a scale that you know, with a relative amount of certainly, that another car will be there” when you need it.

Car2Go charges a one-time sign-up fee of $35 and 38 cents per minute for the car rental. Hourcar has several plans; its “Freedom plan” costs $5 a month and $8 an hour for the car rental.

 

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 • Twitter: @StribRoper

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