car2go is a carsharing service that operated in 14 North American cities and operates in 21 European cities, enabling anyone to rent a car right off the street, pay by the minute, park, and walk away. This service is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler Mercedes-Benz, and a critical company in their strategy to understand mobility in large urban cities, and thus better develop autonomous vehicles and fleets.
The benefit of car2go is the “free-float” model – where the customer did not have to pick up the car from, or return the car to, a set spot. They could park outside their home and end the rental.
Every city had different parking rules and restrictions, and Toronto in particular presented a challenge. Toronto would only let car2go operate if it maintained set “pick up and drop off” spots. While it worked for the first 2 years of operation, car2go customers were increasingly asking for the free-float model.
City Council stated they would approve a pilot program of the free-float model, if enough residents showed interest. We needed to engage members of thecommunity to write their City Council member, to ask for approval of the pilot program.
Getting residents to be actively engaged in their local politics is difficult, and nobody likes an outside company telling them what to do with their city (see: Uber), so this was a tightrope to walk.
We used every channel available to explain to customers what this would mean for them, and how it would impact their lives. We created a simple website that enabled the user to quickly and easily send an email to their specific Councilor.
Plus, we put flyers in each of the car2go cars that customers were using at designated pick-up and drop-off spots, letting them know they could potentially have better options available, if they helped us speak with the Council.
Car2go’s free-floating pilot program was approved, and membership grew 51% to 80,000 Torontonians.