Car-share company car2go has a healthy hold on the Seattle market. It is, after all, the largest U.S. market for the Daimler AG-owned company with 71,000 members.
But almost a year ago, BMW stepped into the market with its ReachNow car-sharing service, marketing its BMW 3-series, electric and Mini cars as a premium option for drivers who needed a car in the city and wanted to drive in a bit more style than the tiny smart cars.
Car2go has offered up an answer to those fancy BMWs and Minis — the Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA.
“There are some people who may not want to drive a little smart car, but the bigger thing is…our members want options,” said Michael Hoitink, car2go’s Seattle manager.
As one might imagine, the new cars have all the bells and whistles a proper German luxury car ought to: power everything, heated seats, Bluetooth integration for cell phones, navigation, backup cameras and so forth.
Perhaps more importantly to the serious driver, both the CLA and GLA are vastly more powerful than the smart cars, and with all-wheel-drive on all the GLAs, a bit more room to rove.
The new cars will initially be offered at the same $0.41 per minute rate as the smart cars, with the Mercedez models going up to $0.49 after March 31.
Conveniently enough for car2go, its parent company not only owns the smart brand, but also owns Mercedes-Benz.
Car2go will initially replace 200 of its 750 smart cars in Seattle with 100 each of the CLAs and GLAs, and may ramp up later if demand grows.
Hoitink said the move isn’t meant to compete with ReachNow any more than the company already did. Many people have both apps, after all, and just grab whatever is closest when they need a car, he said.
He also said that car2go had been testing B-class Mercedes vehicles in three Canadian cities in 2015 — before ReachNow launched in North America.
“This isn’t a reaction,” he said.