Car2Go, the car-sharing service owned by Daimler, made the decision recently to expand its fleet to include larger sedans, assuming the customers who typically use the tiny, two-seat smart cars would appreciate a little more legroom. Now, the company is bringing its Mercedes-Benz luxury CLA and GLA sedans to its largest market yet: New York City.
Car2Go operates in just two boroughs of the city, Brooklyn and Queens. With the addition of the four-door Mercedes sedans to its core fleet of Smart Fortwo vehicles, Car2Go says it now offers 600 vehicles in the city. The company has over 77,000 customers in New York City alone, with 70 percent year-over-year membership growth. And the company says it expects to grow to 1 million members in North America by the end of 2017.
A hedge against the decline of personal car ownership
Car2Go, which allows customers to take cars one-way inside of a set perimeter and charges by the minute, launched in 2008 as one of the first car-sharing services to be started by a major automaker. Lately, other big car companies have jumped on the bandwagon, like BMW with ReachNow and General Motors with Maven. Other automakers, like Cadillac and Porsche, have begun to offer subscription services. Taken together, all of these activities can be seen as a hedge by the auto industry against the trend of more young people moving to cities and leaving their cars behind.
The move to expand its vehicle offerings by Daimler can be seen as a direct response to BMW’s expansion of ReachNow in the US. Previously, Car2Go exclusively used the smart cars, while BMW has a selection of more upscale models that includes the BMW 328xi, i3, and the Mini Cooper in both two- and four-door variants. The Daimler-owned service began offering the larger sedans starting in January, bringing the new vehicles first to DC, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and Denver. (The Verge’s Dami Lee, a regular Car2Go user, recently tested out one of ReachNow’s Mini Coopers and found it to be “a step up over a smart car.”)
What BMW doesn’t have is Run the Jewels. The hip-hop duo recently filmed a “mini-documentary” for Car2Go, taking one of the company’s new sedans on a tour of New York City’s neighborhoods.