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300 smarts are ready for use as car2go starts in Hamburg (Photo: Daimler)

Daimler launched its car2go urban-mobility program in Hamburg last week with 300 smart fortwo cars available to users in a 65 square kilometer area.

Car2go is operated in Hamburg together with car rental company Europcar, which holds 75 pc of the venture. Daimler said it had received more than 1,000 advance membership registrations for the program.
The smarts can be rented in Hamburg for 29 cents a minute or a maximum hourly charge of 14.90 euros. They can be used for any length of time and can be left at any free public parking space within the area of operation. The cars have advanced car-sharing telematics on board and are equipped with solar roofs.
Hamburg is the third major city where car2go is launched. The project started in Ulm in southern Germany and in Austin, Texas, in the US.
In Hamburg, Daimler hopes to prove that the car2go concept can also function in bigger cities. "We will demonstrate that a system like car2go can be financially successful in a large city," said Robert Henrich, managing director of car2go GmbH.
The tie-up with Europcar will mean that users of the city cars are not restricted if they want to travel further afield.
"Car2go covers flexible individual urban mobility and Europcar offers vehicles for travelling longer distances," said Roland Keppler, CEO of Europcar Germany.
The smarts used for car2go are equipped with a a new central control unit with a touch-sensitive 6.5 inch screen. This also has space for the car key and chip cards ”“ for example for refuelling. The telematics unit is linked to the vehicle electronics, which means that it also controls the immobilizer subject to the rental process.
With the addition of Hamburg, there are now 900 car2go vehicles on the roads worldwide. Daimler said there are plans for more cities this year.
Said car2go's Henrich: "We will definitely be launching car2go in further cities in Europe and North America in 2011."