This is a Smartfortwo … it’s made by Daimler and, as you can see by the signage, it’s sold here in Australia. In Australia this little 2-seater is sold by Mercedes Benz dealers and mostly in the capital cities although you may see these vehicles out in other areas. In fact I took this photo here in Hervey Bay just a short while ago and as far as I know there are at least 2 more of these cars around town and at least one of those is in private ownership.
They’re quite a unique little vehicle with some interesting technology hiding under the bonnet but perhaps the most interesting thing about these vehicles is what Daimler is doing with them in two quite different parts of the world. Daimler is running a pilot programme called Car2Go in the city of Ulm in Germany and it will soon be running in Austin Texas too … yes, Texas where everything is much bigger … everything that is but the Smartfortwo.
Car2Go is a manufacturer-sponsored short-term car sharing programme where members pay by the minute for the hire of these vehicles. You don’t have to plan in advance to hire one of these … if you suddenly find that you need a car to get you across town you just call or drop into a Car2Go office and pick one up … or you can even pick one up in the street.
In Ulm there are around 200 Smartfortwo cars in the programme and once you join the programme you get card that gives you access to any car that might be parked in the street and is available for hire. Notice that bit about ‘parked in the street’?
You don’t have to return the vehicle to any particular depot … you can literally park it in the street and end the hire. Any other member of the programme who comes along will be able to tell if the vehicle is available for hire because a special light will be displayed in the window if it is available.
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Now I wonder if we could get this to work in Australia?
You can read more about the programme on the Car2Go website