All those little car2go Smart cars that you see around Seattle? By the end of the year they’ll be gone.
Car2go, the car-sharing company owned by Daimler, is replacing all the Smart cars in its Seattle fleet with Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The company has slowly been upgrading its fleet of smartphone-accessed rental cars, replacing the two-passenger Smart cars with five-passenger Mercedes vehicles.
The company will offer Mercedes four-door coupes and small SUVs.
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As recently as January, the 750 car2go cars in Seattle were all Smart cars. They’re now at about 550 Mercedes and 200 Smart cars and by the end of the year, the fleet will be all Mercedes.
Both Smart and Mercedes are owned by Daimler, car2go’s parent company.
A main competitor in Seattle, ReachNow, runs a fleet of BMWs and MINI Coopers.
Both companies work the same way — pay a one-time membership fee and then find and rent cars through a smartphone app and pay a per-minute fee.
Pricing won’t change, car2go said, but phasing out the Smart cars does mean a de facto price increase, as the Mercedes rent at a higher per-minute rate than the Smart cars.
The company is also planning to switch to Mercedes-only fleets in Portland, Denver and Austin, Chris Iuvancigh, a car2go spokesman said. Iuvancigh said that, in test-runs, the car2go smartphone app has worked better with the Mercedes vehicles, resulting in a smoother experience renting and unlocking the cars.
Car2go launched in Seattle in early 2013 and claims more than 100,000 members here, its largest U.S. market.