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Last weekend, as I took a leisurely stroll around downtown Portland, Oregon, I came across a sight reserved for eco-maniacs and car nuts alike (luckily for me Earthgarage attracts both). Right in the dead center of the city center were several dozen Smart ED cars looking as fresh and new as the cherry blossoms littering the waterfront several blocks away.

As part of a demonstration to promote the arrival of Car2go service in the city, organizers had created a public spectacle to capture the eyes and minds of curious citizens making their way towards their next cultural indulgence. And their intention definitely made an impact as the city has been abuzz about those “little blue cars” ever since.  Throughout the afternoon members of the public continuously walked through the gates for an education on this incredible emissions reducing smart car share system.

For those unfamiliar with Car2go (I had no idea myself) they are an offshoot of German based Daimler AG and have been in operation since November 2011.  During that Fall they became the first organization to service and maintain an all electric car sharing fleet with 300 vehicles in San Diego and Amsterdam respectively. Currently they operate in 5 cities throughout the USA and 7 cities in Europe.  *It is important to note that not all vehicles offered by Car2go are 100% electric but they are damn sure fuel efficient.

The brass tax make it sounds too good to be true.  After you sign up you receive a member card that can be used to access any of the vehicles in your city (Portland currently has 250).  Each car comes with a GPS system that you can track using their online database. This technology makes it very easy to find a car when you need at any time from any location throughout the city.  Also your member card can also be used to fill up the tank at participating gas stations at no added cost.

The price structure begins with charges per minute of use ($0.35). Then the maximum fee per hour is $12.99, and $65.99 for 24 hours.  You may not take a vehicle for more than 24 hours.

Ultimately, you are free to take the vehicle anywhere you want as long as you drop it off within 34 miles of the city in what they call the “home area.”  For those familiar with Portland that means you can use one of these babies for day trip into the Columbia River Gorge for some wine tasting or wind surfing during the summer and make it back without ever having to own a car yourself (or to even drop the wallet weight on one of these serious pieces of metal).

Keep an eye out for when they arrive in a city near you.


Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet