Daimler axes Smart car-sharing scheme in Birmingham and London

Daimler axes Smart car sharing schemes in Birmingham and London

The German car giant withdraws its pool of vehicles from the UK as Car2go project fails to gain significant traction

Daimler is withdrawing its Car2go car-sharing scheme from Britain as of tomorrow (Friday), citing “the UK’s strong culture of private vehicle ownership” as the reason why the project hasn’t worked in this country.

The city-based Car2go scheme – a collaboration between Daimler and Europcar – provides a pool of Smart Fortwo micro cars that can be accessed at any time by registered users.

Drivers locate vehicles using a smartphone app, access the cars via a card reader on the windscreen, pay for usage by the minute and are free to park the car anywhere within the city centre limits at the end of their rental.

The first pilot scheme was launched in Germany in 2008. It reached London in December 2012 and Birmingham in May 2013, the latter as a one-year trial. UK users paid 35p per minute to use the cars.

The scheme operated across three boroughs in London, and in a statement Car2go said it had encountered logistical difficulties in co-ordinating across the capital: “The unique challenges we encountered were more significant than expected”.

The statement continued: “Car2go listened closely to customer feedback and taking the UK’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership into account, we have decided to withdraw from the UK market place. We’d like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has used Car2go in Birmingham and London.

“As the world’s largest free-floating carsharing provider, we will continue to observe the UK market for cultural changes towards the ‘free-floating model’.”

Despite the UK withdrawal, Car2go continues to operate successfully in 25 cities around the world, with more than 700,000 customers.

Earlier this year Daimler revealed plans to add the Mercedes-Benz B-class to the scheme in Germany under the ‘Car2go black’ banner.

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