Many of you already know this, I’m a native Los Angeleno. That means I was born and raised in beautiful and sunny Los Angeles, California. The capital of cool vibes, green smoothies, and traffic. Really, really horrendous traffic.
If I had to add up the amount of hours I’ve spent in my car, it’s likely substantially more than the amount I’ve ever spent out of it. It’s just the life of an average Southern Californian. We live in our cars and we get used to it. So used to it, in fact, that when I moved to Chicago, my car came with me. It didn’t even occur to me to that living in a city with a vast public transportation system would be viable for me. It seemed intimidating to learn and I was already so used to sitting in my car all day, that doing it in new geography seemed manageable. What wasn’t easy to swallow was how much cost came with sustaining that car in said large city. Now there were garage fees, sticker fees, street parking fees, it was staggering. So many of my friends had made the decision to be carless, yet I hung on (and still do), to my wheels.
When carsharing started to bubble up in Chicago a few years back, my interest was piqued and I thought it could be a unique solution for me. Ditch my permanent car and just use a ‘shared’ vehicle as needed for far less cost. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a nearby lot for these designated vehicles in my neighborhood, and again, keeping my car made the most sense. However, when car2go recently hit the scene this July in Chicago (they are operating in multiple cities throughout the country), I saw a total game changer in the way this company was rethinking carsharing that made me take a second look altogether. This is my experience spending the day with car2go.
The massive game changer I saw in car2go that made me interested from the start was their free-float system. Their Chicago-based fleet of over 400 vehicles ‘float’ all over the city within car2go’s Home Area (which is literally everywhere you need to be) and are not just kept in designated lots. They are street side, they are on residential streets, in commercial areas, you name it. The cars are free to roam, just like you are. You can pick one up that may be on the next block over from you – like mine just happened to be! – and then return it anywhere that is convenient for you. No need to bring it back to where you found it. Just leave it… it’s that simple. Of course, they might need to incorporate some cutting-edge fleet management software to keep track of their vehicles, factors like fuel consumption, and other day-to-day operations of the cars. Whatever the case, they’re doing a bang-on job of it!
It was so refreshing to open my car2go app and see that 2 available vehicles were only within 800 feet of me – really! – and that every car type in the fleet was available at least within a of a mile. Whether I was looking for one of their eco (and city) friendly Smart cars, or one of their two Mercedes-Benz styles (they offer a CLA sedan or GLA crossover SUV), all options were at my disposal.
I went with a crisp white Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan, of course. Tootling around town in a car as chic as this was an absolute treat!
I grabbed my coffee and set off in my car2go Benzo, ready to attack a day of errands. I have to say, I was feeling pretty baller. The car was in beautiful condition, and spotless inside and out. I was a bit nervous a shared car might be dirty or unkempt, but this little baby couldn’t have been any more pristine. With gas, cleaning, insurance and parking all included in my rate, it takes all of the thinking (and the heavy cost) out of having a car on demand. Pretty brilliant, right?
For this particular day out shopping, I knew I would need a few hours with the car and was pleased to see that car2go had a ton of flexibility in how I was able to pay for how long I needed with White Lightening (of course I named her). With car2go, there are no membership costs, no monthly fees, and no commitment. Use a car when you need, pay for how long you need it, and don’t pay a penny more. If you don’t use another vehicle again for months, you don’t have to spend anything to maintain a relationship with the company. Whether you’re paying by the minute, the hour, or the day, there is an option for you. Big thumbs up to that.
I had a few more places in town to hit up and then I was ready to meet a friend out for drinks. I wanted to test out just how easy it would be to finish up my session and leave the car somewhere random, not back where I had picked it up. I was in a busier part of town and the street parking was not abundant. I was able to find a spot on a residential permit only street, somewhere I could never park my own vehicle. But with a car2go car, you may park at any approved parking space within the car2go Home Area in addition to on-street residential permit parking areas. What? Really? YASSSS!!! If you live in Chicago, you understand why this is so key. It’s a massive “get” for any driver to have that level of parking access and option in the city. It made dropping the car off an absolute breeze.
All in all, it was an easy, enjoyable, and highly cool experience. One that I would absolutely recommend to anyone looking into carsharing, or even someone that just wants to have some fun and take a Mercedes-Benz out for the day!
Feel like getting behind the wheel? My friends at car2go are offering my readers free registration and car2go credit for new Chicago members. Head to this link to register and use code CHIHTL through September 7th for free registration and $15 of car2go credit.