Daimler’s car2go began service in Berlin on April 26, according to a company announcement.

The fully flexible short-term car rental service offering 1,000 smart fortwo vehicles on startup is a joint venture with Europcar. car2go reports that the new system in Berlin is already in great demand, as evidenced by the roughly 2,000 pre-registrations submitted to date.

The car2go operating area includes the commuter rail ring around Berlin, the city’s nearby suburbs, the centers of Spandau and Köpenick, and the highly-populated areas Marzahn, Hellersdorf, Lichtenrade and Märkisches Viertel. The operating region is approximately 250-sqaure kilometers.

Customers pay a one-time registration fee of 9.90 euros; each time they rent a vehicle, they are charged a rate of 29 cents per minute that includes applicable taxes, insurance, fuel and parking costs, and the first 20 kilometers traveled. Whenever the car2go is left parked in between, the rate decreases to nine cents per parked minute. Discounted rates are available for hourly and daily use: A one-hour car2go rental costs 12.90 euros; the daily rental fee (24 hours) is 39 euros. All new customers are eligible for a free 30-minute initial test drive.

Europcar is contributing its fleet management and logistics expertise to the joint venture and will also make part of its rental station network available for car2go consulting and registration services, beginning mid-May. Customers who register for car2go will also receive a free Europcar partner card that allows them to rent vehicles from the entire Europcar fleet at competitive rates (15% off the least expensive daily rate).

A Multimodal Concept

“The varied mobility patterns of Berlin residents and the great demand in the city for continually available and flexible personal mobility options make the capital an ideal market for new mobility services and programs like car2go,” says Michael Müller, member of the Berlin Senate responsible for Urban Development and the Environment. “Our plans to link car2go with the conventional public transport system will make the program an outstanding addition to traditional scheduled modes of public transport. We’re therefore very happy that car2go has finally arrived in Berlin and we look forward to the great experience we will all share with the system.”

The integration of car2go into a multimodal concept will be implemented in cooperation with the Verkehrsverbund Berlin Brandenburg (VBB) and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) transport companies and other partners shortly after the launch of the program. The cooperation possibilities here will range from joint information and sales campaigns (e.g. car2go registration at selected BVG customer centers) to special discounts for BVG customers and the establishment of intelligently networked information and billing systems.

“Buses and subways are the backbone of the local public transport system,” said BVG Chairwoman Sigrid Nikutta, adding, “Our goal here must be to set up a system that combines the entire product range in the form of a ticket or entry into a standardized information system. This will make it possible for Berliners and their guests to move through the city on buses and trains, by bike, or with a taxi or electric vehicle as needed. In this sense, car2go is an important partner for us as we move to transform our mobility vision into reality.”

Implementing Electric Vehicles

As Berlin continues setting up its electric vehicle (EV) recharging infrastructure, the 1,000 conventional car2go models will gradually be supplemented/replaced by EVs in the coming years. Current plans also call for initial electric car2go models to be integrated into the fleet this year for trial operations. The first 300 smart fortwo electric drive models will then begin normal car2go operations in 2013.

The rate per minute for an electric car2go vehicle won’t be any higher than that for a gasoline engine model, which means car2go will make a major contribution toward ensuring electric mobility can be enjoyed by all.

Additional Technology

The launch in Berlin is being accompanied by the release of a new car2go mobile app for initial use with Apple smartphones. Up until now, car2go has made vehicle data available at an open interface in order to make it possible for independent developers to integrate the information into their programs. However, a special car2go program will offer additional possibilities for further development in the future and links with other services.

The launch of car2go in Berlin is accompanied by the release of the first official car2go mobile app for Apple smartphones and the introduction of an “Eco Score” feature for all car2go vehicles worldwide. The Eco Score provides drivers with information on the environmental compatibility of their driving style via an onboard touchscreen display by monitoring a driver’s braking-acceleration and coasting behavior. The calculation yields an environmental compatibility score between 0 and 100, and depending on this score, three trees on the display will either grow or shrink, whereby the bigger the tree and the higher the Eco Score, the more favorable the impact on the environment.