Car-sharing service Car2go tootles into Chicago with an advantage over rivals

Bike and ridesharing services certainly have their place, but car-sharing schemes are building a growing fanbase, too.

Take Car2go. The Daimler-owned scheme currently operates in six U.S. cities, with another — Chicago — joining the list in July.

Chicagoans will have instant access to 400 eco-friendly shared vehicles, with free registration and credit offered for a limited time to new members.

The company will go up against Zipcar, Maven, IGO, and Getaround in the Windy City, but claims to offer one significant advantage: When you’re done, you can leave the vehicle in a different place from where you started your journey.

According to the company, the free-floating model “helps mitigate traffic congestion, reduces air pollution, and integrates with other transit and sustainable transportation options, thereby helping cities move more people, more efficiently.”

For the uninitiated, here’s how Car2go works: Once you’ve downloaded the Android or iOS app and paid the one-time $5 sign-up fee, you can use the app to find the nearest available car. After reserving it, it’s simply a case of entering the PIN to gain access, and off you go.

A rental costs 29 or 39 cents a minute depending on the size of the car, though cheaper “package” rates are available if you’re likely to need the car for longer than half an hour.

Fuel, parking, insurance, and maintenance costs are all included, and there are no monthly or annual fees.

Trips must start and finish within Car2go’s operating area (see map here). While you can travel up to a maximum of 200 miles outside of the operating area, trips shouldn’t exceed 24 hours unless you’ve selected a package for a longer duration.

“Chicago is ideally suited for Car2go, with the city fully embracing free-float car-sharing as a way to enhance its mobility ecosystem by providing its citizens — including the 800,000-plus Chicagoans who don’t own a vehicle — with a brand new mobility option,” said Paul DeLong, CEO of Car2go North America.

DeLong said that ultimately, Car2go is designed to complement public transit, while at the same time bringing economic and environmental benefits to the cities where it operates. He added, “Our mission in Chicago is simple: to provide a transportation option that improves the lives of Chicagoans.”

Car2go was founded in 2008 and currently has more than three million members in 23 cities around the world. The service launches in Chicago on July 25.

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