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Smart car-sharing comes to London

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Members pay only for the time they use the car, by the minute, with discounted rates for hourly and daily use.

Car2go's simple car-sharing service has been launched in London; from today (4 December) Londoners in Islington, Sutton or Newham can register either online, at the car2go shop in the world's first pop-up mall, Boxpark Shoreditch, or at car rental company Europcar's shops across London.

Once registered, car2go members can locate any available car (they're all Smart microhybrids, with auto transmission, idle stop, aircom and GPS navigation) through the car2go London website, by using a free app or just by walking up to an available car, touching the card reader on the windscreen, getting in and driving off.

Car2go costs 35p (about R5) per minute - that includes fuel, insurance, road tax, parking and maintenance - and is billed directly to the customers' account. Until 31 December 2012, customers can register for free and get 30 minutes of driving pre-loaded onto their account.

They can use the car2go for a quick hop across town or keep it as long as they want - and they don't even have to return it to the same parking bay where they got it - any municipal or unregulated parking space in a participating suburb (Islington, Sutton or Newham) will do.

ONE EVERY FOUR SECONDS

London is the 17th city served by car2go, and globally the company has more than 250 000 customers sharing 6000 vehicles worldwide; the company says a car2go vehicle is being rented at one of its existing locations every four seconds.

Members pay only for the time they use the car, by the minute, with discounted rates for hourly and daily use. There is no minimum amount of time that a car can be used - whether a member needs a car for five minutes or an entire day - members simply get in and drive, for as long as they want without having to commit to a mandatory return time or location. Parking, fuel, maintenance and insurance are included and there are no annual or monthly fees.

Members can use the first available car2go they find, via a smart phone app, the car2go vehicle finder at the car2go website or by simply locating an available car2go on the street. There is no need to make a reservation in advance because members have unrestricted and unlimited access to car2go vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Members can pick up and drop off any car2go anywhere within the car2go home area, in any legal on-street parking space, including metered and non-metered spaces. Members do not need to drive the car back to its original location or commit to a predetermined amount of time. They can simply drive the car for as long as they need it, park the car at their destination, end the rental by swiping the card on the windscreen reader, and the car instantly becomes available for the next member to use.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS:

Become a Member: Licensed drivers can register to become a car2go member at the car2go website. Within three to five business days, a membership card will be mailed to them, which will give members access to all the cars in London.

Locate a Car: Members use the car2go finder at the car2go website, a smart phone app, tablet app, or the car2go facebook app to locate the nearest available car. They can either use the car spontaneously (without a reservation) or book a car2go in advance online or through the app, up to 24 hours in advance.

Access the Car: Members can simply walk up to the car2go, hold the membership card against the card reader on the windshield and the doors will unlock. After entering a PIN on the touchscreen and rating the condition of the vehicle, a key will be released, allowing them to drive.

Drive: Members can take the car key which is stowed next to the touchscreen unit, start the car2go and drive off. They can drive as long as they want, without having to commit to a return time or location.

Finish the Trip: Members can complete their trip in any available public parking space within the car2go home area. Charges are calculated by the minute and will be debited from their credit card after exiting the car. Fuel, parking, maintenance and insurance are included at no additional cost.


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