Compact Smart Cars zipping around the District are becoming a common sight as D.C.'s newest car-sharing service catches on.
More than 8,500 D.C. drivers signed up for membership in Car2Go's first 100 days of operation in D.C. -- making the District the fastest-growing city in North America for the company, which offers 38-cents-per-minute rental of the tech-savvy cars. Members can find the cars on their smartphones, and pick them up, take them wherever and drop them off at any legal parking space inside the District -- and gas is included. The company now has 300 Smart Cars -- and only Smart Cars -- roaming D.C. streets.
The company is catering to a growing customer base in D.C.: new young residents who have decided to go without a car. Car registrations hovered around 275,000 over the past decade, even as the city's population grew by 40,000, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles reported earlier this year.
|What's the difference between Car2Go and ZipCar?|
|» All cars blue-and-white Smart Fortwos|
|» Can drop off car at any legal parking space in D.C.|
|» 38 cents per minute; maximum $13.99 per hour; maximum $72.99 per day; plus 45 cents per mile after you've traveled 150 miles in one rental|
|» One-time registration fee of $35|
|» No reservation required|
|» Cars parked only in D.C.|
|» Fleet of various vehicles, including pick-up trucks|
|» Must return car to original ZipCar parking space|
|» Hourly rates from $8 on weekdays and $11.50 on weekends, respectively; daily rates from $74 on weekdays and $83 on weekends; 45 cents per mile after you've traveled 180 miles in one day|
|» $60 annual fee, $25 application fee|
|» "Extra value plans" available, offering lower hourly rates for a higher monthly cost|
|» Reserve online or by app or phone; late fees if you go past reservation|
|» Cars across the Washington area|
The new arrival is now Zipcar's biggest competition. Before Car2Go started up this year, Zipcar had not had competition since 2007, when it bought its competitor Flex Car. ZipCar doesn't break down its number of users by region but says it has 730,000 members worldwide.
Car2Go user and Ballston resident Ruben Musca says he likes to use the service to go to Georgetown or other places hard to reach by transit. Musca usually walks to work and doesn't own a car.
"I like the feature that you can pick it up anywhere and drop it off anywhere. I didn't want to hunt around for [parking] spots," he said.
Musca said that on several occasions the Smart Car's technology has not been able to read his membership card to unlock the doors, as it is supposed to do, but he is still pleased with the service.
"Overall I think it's a really good concept," he said.