Using car2go for the first time: A challenge or really very simple? Student Sarina Heer took a closer look at the registration process.
Owning a car? Not my thing. Ok, I admit that this is probably due to the chronic shortage of money that often besets us students. I usually walk everywhere, or take public transport. But at times when I am walking in the rain wet to the skin, or the railways are on strike, I think how nice it would be to get where I'm going quickly and dry. As a student I am used to sharing - whether it be food in my lodgings, lecture notes or the last few euros when the money runs out again. So why not share a car as well? In line with the brand claim of car2go, "proud to share", I finally decided to become one of 2.7 million users.
Proud to share in Munich
How fitting that I happen to be visiting Germany's sharing capital, Munich. This is where one of Germany's four car2go Shops recently opened. Although I am one of those people who prefer to do things by app, I spontaneously decide to pay a visit to the car2go Shop in Munich. The Munich Location Manager, Andreas Reiter, explains that despite the app, many people prefer to do it this way: "Our customers are now able to arrange almost everything online, including online validation of their driver's license. Customers who prefer personal contact now have a further choice with the car2go Shop."
Perfectly simple and extremely flexible
I would never have thought that renting a car is easier than ordering a pizza. As I have downloaded the app beforehand, the registration process is very quick. I am first asked for my personal details. Then I can choose between a direct bank debit or a credit card as the payment method. To activate the customer account you are sent an email after a few minutes. This needs to be confirmed. Then it's time to validate the driver's license, which can be conveniently done by app thanks to the new process. Simply take photos of the front and back of the license, then upload them to the app with a selfie.
3,2,1…and off we go
As soon as the validity of the documents, the security functions and the data has been verified, I am sent a confirmation email.
And then I'm ready to roll. Thanks to the app, I can see exactly where there are available cars in the area. I am also able to filter for the model I would like to rent. In addition the current fuel level is displayed. If the fuel level is below ten percent the car is no longer shown as available, and it is refueled by car2go personnel. After making a short reservation I have 30 minutes time to walk to the nearest car.
Two-seater, four-seater, smart or Mercedes?
Even though the decision is really not easy to make given the 500 vehicles in Munich, I opt for a smart. And should something larger be required, there is also the GLA, CLA or A-Class. No worries about parking either, even with the larger models -- in Munich the car can be parked in any public car park free of charge within the car2go business area.
Welcome – we have unlocked the car for you!
On arriving at the car I see the small display in the windscreen. I am skeptical whether the car really can be unlocked without a key, just by using a code. But it actually works. Once I have entered my personally chosen PIN, the display shows a further code for me to enter and the car is unlocked. After checking the car for any damage or faults, I can get in. Depending on the model, the key is usually easily visible next to the steering wheel. Then I'm almost ready to drive off. I enter my destination in the navigation system. So that I don't have to do without my own music, I quickly connect my cellphone to the sound system and am ready to go.
On the way I spontaneously decide to make an interim stop by Munich's English Garden. Very useful that I can park the car anywhere free of charge. At least as long as it is a car park complying with the road traffic regulations.
Using vehicles and freeing up parking spaces
Should the fuel level become low during a longer journey, customers are able to refuel free of charge using the card left in the vehicle. By way of thanks, they are granted ten free minutes if the fuel level was below 25 percent and they have completely filled the tank. Locking the car is just as easy as unlocking it. Simply insert the key with its chip back into the slot, close the doors and click on "End rental" in the app. The display in the windscreen shows that the rental has been ended. Especially in large cities, car2go is increasingly popular as an alternative to owning a car. After all, we are all familiar with the parking problems in cities. It's quite common to take three trips around the block before a free space is found. And once the perfect parking space has been found, people are very loath to give it up. The result is that a private car in Germany is only on the move for an average of one hour per day, unlike a car2go with three to six hours per day.
Into the future under electric power
car2go therefore not only frees up valuable parking space, but also reduces the number of vehicles on the road. Lower emissions are a further advantage. Already now, an electric car is rented at car2go every 8.7 seconds.All in all, car2go customers have already covered 57.3 million kilometers purely under electric power. That corresponds to 1429 times around the earth, or as many tonnes of CO₂ as 12.4 million oak trees or a 24,000 hectare pine forest could bind in a year. This not only makes car2go an environmentally friendly alternative, but also an inexpensive one.
Owning a car? No longer necessary
For me as a student, car2go is an ideal alternative to owning a car, especially in a large city. I am able to move around flexibly and independently. Moreover, I not only save the cost of repairs, statutory inspections, vehicle tax, gasoline or electric power, parking tickets or tire replacement, I am also acting sustainably. And I don't have to go without this while on vacation either. Because car2go is represented in 8 countries with 26 locations around the world. So I can conveniently reserve a suitable model while my plane is still on the tarmac.