Madrid tops European rankings for Car2go vehicle-sharing service

Company says expectations for its fleet of electric cars have been far exceeded

A car2go vehicle in Madrid.
A car2go vehicle in Madrid.Jaime Villanueva

A year on from their launch, the distinctive blue-and-white electric vehicles belonging to car-sharing firm Car2go, part of Germany’s Daimler-Mercedes Benz group, have become a common sight in downtown Madrid.

In fact, the roll-out of the cars in the Spanish capital has been so successful that Thomas Beermann, the man responsible for Car2go’s European operations, describes it as the company’s best ever.

Car2go doesn’t compete with public transport, it supplements it

European operations chief Thomas Beermann

The numbers seem to back that up. The company now has more than 112,000 users in Madrid and its fleet of 500 Smart Fortwo cars has already traveled 5.8 million kilometers, for a saving of 568 tons in CO2 emissions in a city that has long been plagued by pollution.

On top of that, Madrid can boast of Car2go’s greatest number of vehicles per user, while each of the firm’s cars in the capital is hired out from 12 to 15 times daily.

Results in Madrid have exceeded the company’s “most optimistic forecasts,” Beermann says.

“When you are looking at such high daily-usage rates there are always going to be incidents related to the flexible car-sharing model, but we try and respond fully to these,” he notes.

In more good news for the company, initial problems with vandalism seem to have become a thing of the past, with no incidents reported since the company went to the authorities complaining that 60 of its vehicles had been damaged.

The Madrid Taxi Association, which was very active in opposing the entry of transport service Uber into the Spanish market, denied that it had anything to do with the vandalism to the company’s fleet.

In fact Beerman says the company has good relations with taxi organizations in those cities where it operates. “We see ourselves as providing a service that complements their activities,” he explains. “Car2go doesn’t compete with public transport in cities, instead it is a useful addition because there are a lot of situations where people who live downtown prefer individual transport instead of buses, underground trains or taxis,” he adds, citing as examples trips that would require a lot of changes, or weekend journeys when public transport is less frequent.

Car2go’s fleet of 500 cars in Madrid has already saved 568 tons of CO2 emissions

The company is now evaluating its service beyond the 53 square kilometers where it operates at present, Beermann says. Car2go’s vehicles are more than capable of “going to the airport and back,” as long as all trips begin and end in the current operational zone, the executive adds.

There are no plans to change the company’s current pricing structure in Madrid, according to the Car2go executive.

Most Car2go users in the city are aged from 26 to 35, while men account for 70% of customers. The average trip time is 20 to 30 minutes, with peak periods being from 12pm to 3pm and then again from 6pm to 9pm, according to the company.

English version by George Mills.

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