On March 1st, the vehicles embarked on their fifth leg of the USA-tour from Houston to San Antonio. Along the way, the participants stopped for a visit at car2go in Austin and gained insight into the innovative mobility program. Mercedes-Benz thereby emphasizes, that both, alternative drives like the fuel cell technology as well as intelligent utilization concepts can make a contribution to the individual future mobility.
Since its start on January 30, the F-CELL World Drive demonstrates how the automotive future could look like. “Electric vehicles with fuel cell are an important step on the way towards future mobility. The F-CELL World Drive demonstrates in impressive fashion the practical merits and the major benefits of this technology which are directly apparent to the customer, such as short refuelling times and a large range,” says Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler AG Board Member responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “In addition to that, we are fully convinced, that projects like car2go, allowing an alternative kind of vehicle use in cities, are an answer to the challenges of future automobility.”
More than 15,000 members are using car2go in Austin
During their visit, the participants had the opportunity to experience the mobility project car2go first-hand. Shortly after their arrival in Austin, Texas, the participants exchanged their familiar B-Class F-CELL vehicles for the specially designed two-seater car2go vehicles and went on a demonstration drive through the self proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World”.
car2go is an innovative mobility solution redefining individual transportation in rapidly growing urban areas. It provides an innovative mode of “on-demand” transportation which compliments existing public transportation alternatives by bridging the gaps commonly associated with the “first and last mile” of a public transit commute. After launching the program in the German city of Ulm as a pilot project in 2008, Austin, Texas was the first North American city launched and continues to be the headquarter’s of Daimler subsidiary car2go N.A. LLC. To date, car2go has reached more than 20.000 customers in Ulm and 15,000 registered members in Austin. car2go starts operations in Hamburg this spring and is set to undergo significant expansion in North America in 2011.
car2go members’ in Austin,Texas have access to a network of 200 environmentally-friendly smart fortwo vehicles available for use twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Members can simply locate an available car2go on the street via the internet, smart phone application or by contacting the car2go customer call center. Unlike traditional car-sharing, they can begin their trip spontaneously or reserve a vehicle up to 24 hours in advance without committing to a specific time or location to return the vehicle. They can finish the rental in any available legal on street public parking space within the car2go business area or at one of the specially marked dedicated car2go spaces. car2go charges customers only for the actual use of the vehicle, with rental periods as short as per-minute.
Since the start of the car2go operations in Austin, more than 150,000 rentals have been completed throughout the greater downtown area with average usage between 20 and 50 minutes per rental. The customers range in age from college students to retirees, with about 50 percent between 18 and 35 years old. Individual customers use car2go for a wide variety of different purposes: from trips to work and shopping to weekend excursions. Business customers include the City of Austin, LIVESTRONG, the natural and organic food retailer’s flagship store Whole Foods and the State of Texas. The benefits of car2go, such as on-demand rentals and one-way trips, have proven to be significant factors contributing to the success of the program.
In 2010, car2go received the “2010 Greater Austin Business Award” for its positive impact on traffic in the city. Nationally, car2go was honored by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with its prestigious “2010 EPA Clean Air Excellence Award” for providing clean transportation alternatives in urban environments.
From Florida to Texas: more than 2.300 km across the USA – locally emission-free
With the F-CELL World Drive, Mercedes-Benz emphasizes its efforts in regards to a sustainable mobility and the development of a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure. The three locally emission-free B-Class F-CELL with fuel cell drive currently drive across the North American continent. Until they reached Austin, the tour already covered more than 6.000 kilometers in Europe and the US. Another 5.200 kilometers will follow until the US-tour comes to an end in Seattle.
The visit of car2go subsidiary is only one of numerous activities, with which the Mercedes-Benz wants to raise attention for sustainable technologies and projects.
Mercedes-Benz F-CELL World Drive
During the F-CELL World drive, three Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL vehicles with fuel cell drive will be driving through 14 countries and across 4 continents – travelling around the globe. Starting on January 30, 2011, the round-the-world trip will take 125 days and 30.000 kilometers until the vehicles arrive at Stuttgart at the beginning of June. The objective is to demonstrate that electric vehicles equipped with fuel cell are technically mature and suitable for everyday use as well as to call the attention to the urgent need of an area-wide hydrogen infrastructure. The hydrogen required during the tour will be supplied by the Linde AG, who supports the F-CELL World Drive.