By Brian Arola
Minneapolis has selected a German-based company to spearhead a car sharing experiment that hopes to attract more riders using the city's on-street parking spots.
Car2Go, a subsidiary of German auto-manufacturer Daimler AG, won the contract over competitors Hertz on Demand, Hourcar and Zipcar. Car2Go does not currently have a Minneapolis presence, but maintains operations in San Diego, Washington D.C. and Miami.
Hourcar, which is based in Minneapolis, sent an e-mail blast after the hearing urging its customers to contact the City Council about Car2Go exclusively using on-street parking. The company said that it has had "two years of discussion" with the city about using the curbside spots.
"We know that on-street reserved parking for shared vehicles from multiple operators (including car2go) is perfectly successful in cities like Denver, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Toronto," the e-mail said. "Minneapolis should utilize its right-of-way to maximize benefits to everyone and that means ensuring people have access to as many green and affordable car-sharing options as possible."
The City Council's Transportation and Public Works Committee approved the Car2Go staff recommendation at their meeting Tuesday. It still needs approval from the full council later this month.
Atif Saeed, the city’s parking systems manager, said a six-person panel reviewed written and oral presentations before deciding on Car2Go. The company’s large fleet of Smart Cars, which Daimler manufactures, and inexpensive rates scored highly in the process, Saeed said.
“There’s no monthly fee so you’re actually paying the incremental cost of when you use the vehicles,” he said.
So far, none of the fleet of 250 Smart Cars Car2Go will provide for the project will be electric, which some council members said they’d like to see.
“I think if this program can help move us in a direction where we are putting a critical level of infrastructure in place so we’re attracting the electric vehicle market to this city and this region, that’s a good thing,” said City Council Member Robert Lilligren.
Photo from Car2Go Facebook page