At this year’s Paris Motor Show, car2go and smart are celebrating the world premiere of a new generation of cars. In future, blue-and-white smart fortwos will roll off the production line at the smart plant in Hambach, Lorraine, as a fully-configured “car2go edition”.

With this special model variant, Daimler AG is highlighting the forthcoming international roll-out of its successful mobility programme, and at the same time taking an important step towards commercialisation.

The car2go edition is fitted with brand new telematics hardware, a new control unit with touchscreen, and a solar roof developed especially for the smart. Daimler, as a supplier of electric vehicles and car2go technology, is also announcing its involvement in a consortium bidding on the contract for the planned “Autolib’” mobility concept in Paris.

“car2go is now well established in Ulm, Germany, and Austin, USA as an innovative alternative means of transport around the city,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Daimler CEO and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “In future, to support the international roll-out of our mobility concept, we will be producing the world’s first series produced car sharing vehicle – the car2go edition – at our smart plant in Hambach. In this way Daimler is once again highlighting its leading role in innovative urban mobility.”

The car2go edition is fitted with a completely new hardware generation that makes the fully-automated rental process even more convenient and secure. The telematics, which are the most efficient car sharing telematics in the world, have been optimized for the requirements of car2go, and were developed in cooperation with the Ulm-based Daimler TSS GmbH among other companies. The new-generation technology is completely integrated into the vehicle both visually and technically, At its heart is a new control unit with a large touch-sensitive screen. The car key, which was previously kept in the glove compartment, is now securely stowed here. There are also convenient slots for up to four chip cards (e.g. for refuelling or for entry to car parks). The telematics unit is networked directly with the vehicle electronics, which means it can also control the immobiliser: when the customer starts the rental process with his or her access authorization and enters a PIN number, the immobiliser is deactivated and later, once the rental is over, it is immediately activated again. The user interface has also been completely redesigned: both the menu and the integrated radio and navigation system have been clearly upgraded, are even more convenient to use, and are in keeping with the car2go design.

“The new hardware and software generation is a platform which can be used to provide even more services in the car in the future,” explains car2go Managing Director Robert Henrich, giving a look into the future. “We can now integrate additional functions such as online services and media into the system in a customer-friendly way.”

Sun deck included
Another new feature in the car2go edition is the solar roof, which is a standard feature. With power of 100 Watt, it is the most powerful solar roof to be fitted as standard in a car, and it is fully integrated in the on-board electrics. The solar energy produced in this way is used to supply power to the telematics, and also to continually charge the car’s battery. This allows the alternator to be decoupled whilst driving and fuel consumption to be reduced by up to 10 percent. In addition, if the vehicle is parked in the sun, solar energy is used to power the ventilation system, which can reduce the temperature in the interior by up to 18 °C. This not only adds to the comfort when a customer gets into the car in summer or in southern climes, but also reduces the burden on the environment, because the air-conditioning system needs to expend considerably less energy to cool the car down, thus reducing fuel consumption.

The car2go edition is based on the smart fortwo mhd, and marks a switch from diesel to petrol at car2go. This car is expected to have an even better environmental record than its predecessor, thanks to the automatic start-stop system: as car2go vehicles are used mainly for intra-urban travel, every stop at traffic lights is used as an opportunity to save fuel. The car2go edition also has other features that make it particularly well-suited to rental. Its wheel rims and its seats, for example, are more robust than those of the car2go predecessor.

car2go technology for Paris
The success of the innovative car2go mobility concept in Ulm and Austin has also prompted Daimler to join a consortium bidding for the contract for the pioneering “Autolib’” project in Paris, as a supplier of vehicles and car2go technology. The consortium consists of the car rental company Avis, the Paris public transportation company RATP, the French state rail company SNCF and the construction company Vinci, which, among other things, operates numerous car parks in Paris. The contract would involve supplying a total of 3,000 electric vehicles – namely the smart fortwo electric drive and the A-Class E-CELL – to the project between now and 2012. The project also includes creating the necessary parking and vehicle charging infrastructure in the streets of Paris and some nearby localities.

car2go has enjoyed great success in Ulm since its launch there in 2008, and in Austin, the state capital of Texas, since 2010. 20,000 customers in Ulm currently use the 200 smart fortwo cdi’s, which will be replaced in the fourth quarter of 2010 with 300 of the new car2go edition smart fortwo mhd’s. Since the end of March 2009 when the service was launched to the public, almost 350,000 journeys have been made, and more than 4 million kilometres travelled. One of the system’s major advantages – the fact that customers can spontaneously make one-way journeys around the city – has proved very popular: nine out of ten rentals end at a different location from where they started. Customers can start and end their rental wherever they choose, and use the car for as long or as short a time as they like.

In Austin, Texas, people have shown incredible enthusiasm for the innovative mobility program. Just over four months since launching the program to the public, car2go has reached 10,000 registered members with more than 80,000 rentals completed. Shortly after its launch, car2go received the “Clean Air Excellence Award” from the US environment agency EPA, and the “Greater Austin Business Award” from the Austin chamber of commerce, in recognition of its innovativeness and environmental friendliness.

Preparations for the launch of car2go in other cities, particularly in Europe and North America, are continuing as planned, with roll-out set to take place from the first quarter of 2011 onwards. “We want to use the new car2go edition right from the start so that we can offer our customers the most convenient, progressive car sharing technology available today,” says Robert Henrich.

Just get in and drive off – wherever you are
“car2go is a further important component in Daimler’s strategy for sustainable mobility,” says Dr. Martin Zimmermann, Vice President Strategy, Alliances & Business Innovation at Daimler AG. “It is a completely flexible intra-urban transport system that is extremely easy for customers to use.”

When a customer requires a car, at whatever time of day or night, they can either rent it spontaneously on the street, or reserve it by phone or online. They can use the car for as long as required, then leave it at any public parking space within the car2go operating area. The pricing is particularly simple: rates are by the minute and include fuel, insurance and parking. Attractive rates apply for rentals by the hour and day. The only prerequisites for using the service are a one time registration procedure, and possession of a valid drivers licence. A small electronic seal is affixed onto the licence, turning it into a pass that the holder can use to access any available car2go vehicle. When the driving licence is held up to a reader near the windshield, the car’s central locking is unlocked and the rental period begins. After entering their PIN and briefly assessing cleanliness and checking for any damage on the vehicle via a screen inside the vehicle, the customer can drive. car2go differs from traditional car sharing programs in its spontaneous, flexible, fully-automated rental process, the option of making one-way and open-ended rentals, and its extremely simple and transparent pricing structure.

Source: Daimler AG