You see them all over Vienna now, small white and blue Smart Fortwo microcars tucked away in a line of parked vehicles (only noticeable amongst their much larger brethren due to the distinctive livery) or weaving through the city’s traffic. There are some four hundred such cars in operation across the city and they form the fleet for Vienna’s latest transport option – the Car2go scheme.
Car2go is a car sharing scheme which was recently launched here in Vienna. With the aid of a Smartphone app and an electronic key, members simple locate the nearest parked car, hop in and drive off. When finished they equally simply park up and walk away. One big advantage of the scheme is you can park without restriction in the various city parking zones. A downside, voiced by some people, is that there are now additional cars taking up the limited parking spaces within the city. This ‘problem’ may dissipate if the scheme, over time, is successful at encouraging people to give-up or not replace their cars.
The cost of driving the car is reasonably set and of course you have insurance cover. It should be noted though that like any rental scheme you are liable for the first part of any costs. A friend of mine who likes sitting down and doing such things has calculated that the scheme is cheaper than taking a taxi. However, the latter is still the best option if you want a single glass of wine or beer while out as alcohol in the blood stream would nullify the insurance on the Car2go I’m told.
Such a car sharing scheme is one example of the ways in which city authorities across Europe are trying to develop the concept of a ‘smart city’, in this case addressing the dimension of ‘smart mobility’.
I know some friends who have just signed up for the scheme and I look forward to hearing their views on its pros and cons.
Wikipedia provides some further background to the scheme which is also found in parts of America, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.