Car Sharing

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Car Sharing

Postby PhilmerPhil » May 2nd, 2013, 8:27 am

This is a very exciting development. Another step in the right direction to encourage car free households in the city:

City taps German company for car sharing pilot

HourCar has never been an attractive option to me, with it's membership fees and lack of flexibility. Looking at maps of other cities, these things are almost as densely located as the NiceRides are, and from what I gather, you can use them without having to bring them back to their original location.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 2nd, 2013, 9:06 am

I think the biggest challenge to this replacing car ownership in households is the fact that if you can't drop the car off when you go somewhere longer term, you get charged a LOT (and it becomes a financial loss vs owning). This includes visiting friends/family in the burbs for an evening (or overnight for a holiday), if one member of the family works out in the burbs - leaving in the parking lot for 8+ hours, taking a weekend trip to someone's cabin/Duluth/Chicago/etc. These may seem like silly reasons (and on a certain level I do agree), but people will take any excuse - rational or not money-wise - to keep owning their car in their own garage and the freedom that brings.

I'm not sure how the on-street process works for HourCar.. could you literally leave it at ANY Minneapolis on-street metered spot? Or does HourCar pay Minneapolis a yearly fee for each on-street space and then they put in their own meter system to track if the car is parked there? I think if Minneapolis started to really up-zone as many places as possible and this went along with that, it would be a great transition for many people to living truly car-free. I say that because I remember David Owen saying something about SmartCars (small) and really good MPG cars being bad for cities - the last thing a car-free environment needs is more incentive to start driving around again because it's a) affordable and b) small enough to park anywhere. Just a thought.

Also, what's ZipCar's strategy? I know they just partnered with the U and have been building a presence here but it's really nothing compared to most other cities..
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby mattaudio » May 2nd, 2013, 9:21 am

I started a carshare about 6 years ago, and we were trying to improve our dynamic pricing models so it would allow people to use cars for longer trips during off-peak times. Based on our models, which were for rural/small town college campuses, peak demand was obviously for evenings and weekends. Since the marginal cost for other usage was so low, we figure it would make sense to focus on promoting these times for untraditional trips.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby UptownSport » May 3rd, 2013, 12:30 am

RailBaronYarr wrote:I say that because I remember David Owen saying something about SmartCars (small) and really good MPG cars being bad for cities - the last thing a car-free environment needs is more incentive to start driving around again because it's a) affordable and b) small enough to park anywhere. Just a thought.

Interesting, so he suggests bringing back '72 Chrysler's?
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby Mdcastle » May 3rd, 2013, 7:04 am

I guess my Jeep Grand Cherokee is good for the city then since the cost of the gasoline (20 mpg on premium fuel) encourages me to combine errands and not go for a drive just for the heck of it?

As far as the car-sharing concept, is it going to be nothing but Smart-Cars? I thought the whole point of car sharing was so you could get just enough car for your needs at the moment, like a Smart Car to drive to the office, a minivan to take the kids to soccer practice, a SUV to haul the boat or wood chips on the weekend, a larger, more comfortable sedan to drive to Chicago for the weekend...
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby gpete » May 3rd, 2013, 7:26 am

Gary Schiff bringing up legitimate complaint? Or is this just a politically motivated tweet from a mayoral candidate?

Gary Schiff ‏@garyschiff 18h
I support @HourCar. I can't make sense of giving German company Car2Go such an advantage over a local nonprofit #senditbacktocommittee
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby VAStationDude » May 3rd, 2013, 7:39 am

With Gary it's usually politically motivated. The scary Germans are beating up on our little non profit. Hourcar was free to make their own bid. I've been an hour car member for 3.5 years and really like it but their service has its limitations. If Daimler can put a bunch of money into a comprehensive car share program it's a huge win for Minneapolis.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 8:36 am

UptownSport wrote:
RailBaronYarr wrote:I say that because I remember David Owen saying something about SmartCars (small) and really good MPG cars being bad for cities - the last thing a car-free environment needs is more incentive to start driving around again because it's a) affordable and b) small enough to park anywhere. Just a thought.

Interesting, so he suggests bringing back '72 Chrysler's?


From a purely green argument, high congestion, in cities is a good thing as long as the response isn't to make more room for more cars. High congestion on the streets, no places to park, etc all make owning a car in an area designed for people that much more uncomfortable and have lower utility (time, cost to park, etc). High MPG cars also have the same effect as widening freeways and roads on induced demand. You buy a 50 mpg car and the marginal cost of using it for each trip or each additional mile per trip lowers - you can now afford to live 5, 10 miles further from your daily needs at the 'same' (marginal, since up-front capital price is higher) price. That's his argument, and I don't wholly disagree with it.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 8:42 am

Mdcastle wrote:I guess my Jeep Grand Cherokee is good for the city then since the cost of the gasoline (20 mpg on premium fuel) encourages me to combine errands and not go for a drive just for the heck of it?

As far as the car-sharing concept, is it going to be nothing but Smart-Cars? I thought the whole point of car sharing was so you could get just enough car for your needs at the moment, like a Smart Car to drive to the office, a minivan to take the kids to soccer practice, a SUV to haul the boat or wood chips on the weekend, a larger, more comfortable sedan to drive to Chicago for the weekend...


You're point isn't far off, even with the slight snark. Again, from an environmental perspective, a truck with 10 MPG (or your Jeep @ 20) driving 3-4 miles a day is better for the environment (and built environment costs/impacts) than a Prius at 50 MPG driving 40-50 miles per day.

Yes, car-sharing does not focus only on Smart Cars, they offer mostly smaller sedans with vans for the occasional need for larger groups/travel. But financially speaking they would do well to have a fleet of cars as small as possible - I would bet that 90++% of car sharers are driving solo or with one other person and making short, local trips. Few will need a truck to haul a boat for the weekend, and if they did own their own boat that needed hauling they would likely also have a vehicle to transport it already (most people I know in relatively dense urban areas don't own a boat). The space required to store small cars is less, especially if you can double up in parking spots. Smaller cars typically get better mileage, and ZIpCar doesn't charge users directly for gas - maximizing fleet MPG puts money in their pocket.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby Cyclotron » May 3rd, 2013, 9:00 am

UptownSport wrote:Interesting, so he suggests bringing back '72 Chrysler's?

I'm all for that, if for nothing other than the entertainment value of watching Minneapolitan's parallel parking an Olds 98.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby MNdible » May 3rd, 2013, 9:06 am

Few will need a truck to haul a boat for the weekend, and if they did own their own boat that needed hauling they would likely also have a vehicle to transport it already (most people I know in relatively dense urban areas don't own a boat).


Disagree with you on this last point. Owning a boat is not the only reason you need a truck. A lot of people in my south Minneapolis neighborhood have much larger cars than they need for the occasional trip to Home Depot or trip to the dump. I think car share programs should offer beater pickup trucks as an option.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby Viktor Vaughn » May 3rd, 2013, 9:31 am

RailBaronYarr wrote: ...Few will need a truck to haul a boat for the weekend, and if they did own their own boat that needed hauling they would likely also have a vehicle to transport it already (most people I know in relatively dense urban areas don't own a boat).


We own canoes and kayaks! They're easy to store, easy to transport on a small car, and they're quiet. Nothing like getting out of the city for fresh air and peace-&-quiet only to rip around in a noisy, exhaust-spewing boat.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 10:10 am

MNdible wrote:
Few will need a truck to haul a boat for the weekend, and if they did own their own boat that needed hauling they would likely also have a vehicle to transport it already (most people I know in relatively dense urban areas don't own a boat).


Disagree with you on this last point. Owning a boat is not the only reason you need a truck. A lot of people in my south Minneapolis neighborhood have much larger cars than they need for the occasional trip to Home Depot or trip to the dump. I think car share programs should offer beater pickup trucks as an option.


I was responding directly to the point made about needing an SUV to haul a boat on the weekend. Yes, there are MANY other VERY occasional uses that trucks or SUVs can serve. I would argue that a lot of people convince themselves they need bigger than they do, especially if we're talking about an urban environment. How big are S Minneapolis lots - 0.10 to 0.13 acres for the middle 2 standard deviations of lot size for SF homes? How much mulch, fertilizer, etc do they need for their yard? How much garbage or lawn stuff do they need to take to the dump? My Mazda Protege5 is a pretty small car by most standards but with seats folded down I can haul a good amount of stuff back there and still have room for a passenger. For the extremely few times I'd actually need a truck, perhaps renting one would be nice. Or, having delivery/pickup services would also suffice as an option (both practically and financially) compared to owning one for the other 363 days a year or ZipCar providing one

If this was a need for a urban neighborhood, I'm sure there are opportunities out there for the car shares of the world to provide, but the relative lack of frequency of use would lead to stocking one for a large area, making it inconvenient for most people, IMO. Which is probably why we don't see a lot of beater trucks or SUVs in the car sharing portfolio.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby mulad » May 3rd, 2013, 11:03 am

Looking over the report linked in the original post, it sure does look like this proposal from Car2Go would deploy a fleet of 250 Smart Cars. To me, it feels like they're trying to dump a fairly unpopular car on the city. They waited far too long to try and break into the American market with the ForTwo model, partly because the country was SUV-obsessed at the time it was originally introduced in Europe. It was already an old car by the time it appeared here, and it's only been modestly refreshed since then.

I feel like a car-sharing program really should either go with a good all-around vehicle or provide a mix of vehicle types. The ForTwo is only a two-seater (hence the name), so it's limiting the market. Of course, 80 or 90% of people are usually driving alone, so maybe it doesn't matter all that much. In theory, they'd only have to toss a couple dozen bigger cars in the mix to handle the multi-seat demand.

I'm kind of suspicious that this whole Car2Go program from Daimler is an attempt to bump up the flagging sales number of the Smart, which hasn't been all that popular. It did alright when it first came out in the U.S., but dropped off pretty rapidly. Of course, it doesn't help that we all think that a small car like that will get infinity miles per gallon just because it's half the size of a regular car. Unfortunately, the real-world performance has never matched expectations. There are a lot of 4-/5-door, 4-/5-seater cars that perform better (both handling and fuel efficiency) even though they're larger.
Last edited by mulad on May 3rd, 2013, 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby mattaudio » May 3rd, 2013, 11:07 am

When I was starting a car share, it was clear that the prius effect was just marketing hype for urban drivers. We decided on Mazda 3 sedans and hatches as our primary vehicle.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby MNdible » May 3rd, 2013, 11:18 am

Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta would be great cars.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby FISHMANPET » May 3rd, 2013, 11:39 am

I was amazed when I first saw a Smart Car at the Going Green Expo, it was like a shoebox I could barely fit into (and I'm only 6 foot tall) and it only got 50 MPG. My 2001 Saturn gets 30 MPG, and it's a piece of shit, but enormous in comparison.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby Mdcastle » May 3rd, 2013, 12:22 pm

A lot of days my Jeep actually drives 0 since I telecommute, the main use is driving to the Minneapolis lakes on nice evenings, to the store once or twice a week, or the occasional road trip. So I suppose by that logic that's better than someone that drives a Smart Car from Credit River to downtown Minneapolis every day... I haven't been to downtown Minneapolis in a year so I'm not taking up valuable space or emitting exhaust in the tight downtown area.
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 12:53 pm

Mdcastle wrote:A lot of days my Jeep actually drives 0 since I telecommute, the main use is driving to the Minneapolis lakes on nice evenings, to the store once or twice a week, or the occasional road trip. So I suppose by that logic that's better than someone that drives a Smart Car from Credit River to downtown Minneapolis every day... I haven't been to downtown Minneapolis in a year so I'm not taking up valuable space or emitting exhaust in the tight downtown area.


I wasn't targeting you, just pointing out the difference when talking about an urban context of what's better for 'being green.'
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Re: Car Sharing

Postby mulad » May 3rd, 2013, 1:11 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:I was amazed when I first saw a Smart Car at the Going Green Expo, it was like a shoebox I could barely fit into (and I'm only 6 foot tall) and it only got 50 MPG. My 2001 Saturn gets 30 MPG, and it's a piece of shit, but enormous in comparison.


Did you flip those numbers around, kinda sorta? The Smart is currently rated at 34 city/38 highway (36 combined). In 2008 it was 33/41 (still 36 combined). It's not terrible, but as I said, folks generally expected a small car like that to be getting 40+ mpg all the time. Yeah, my mom had a '97 Saturn that would tick past 40 mpg on the highway. The EPA changed their method for calculating fuel consumption for the 2008 model year, so vehicles before and after that year aren't directly comparable -- that probably didn't help Smart either, since it reduced the fuel economy numbers by about 15%, if memory serves.

But as others have alluded to, pure mpg is not the best way to think about things -- gallons per day per person might be better, but that's primarily dependent on the user(s). (And even gallons should probably be converted to kilowatt-hours or something.)
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