BMW has announced and Audi hinted at (via trademark filings) brand-owned car sharing services. But if luxury automakers get serious about the game of car sharing Daimler is poised to win and here’s how.
In the U.S. Car2Go has worked very hard to not only be in urban areas across the U.S., but to also develop parking agreements to allow users of their service the freedom to park anywhere, for free. This helped give Car2Go an advantage over its competitors which typically require loaner vehicles be returned to a designated parking spot.
A recent survey conducted by Alix Partners found, among other things, ease of ease of access and convenience ranked at the top of the list for why people participate in a car sharing services.
Car2Go, the fleet of park-anywhere blue-and-white Smart Fortwos, is a global brand owned by Daimler, parent company to Mercedes Benz. While the fleet of Smart ForTwos will work for most people and I’m sure Daimler was happy to report the small cars as ‘sold’, what if Daimler decided, or the market decided for Daimler, that it was time to add a little luxury and practicality to the fleet of small utilitarian cars.
Imagine the headline:
We are proud to announce that the CLA and GLA are now available at Car2Go!
The two entry-level vehicles would allow Car2Go to offer to its users a more practical vehicle and attractive vehicle, yet one that is still small enough for city duty. Presumably the value in the smaller luxury vehicles is to entice new buyers to the brand and what better way than car sharing.
I envision this being a part of a new two-tiered approach that maintains the standard Car2Go rates via the Smart ForTwo, but would introduce a new premium option featuring the CLA and GLA. Seeing that all the logistics, business operations, city agreements and branding has already been established the only cost would be the vehicles themselves, the retrofitting of Car2Go use-technology and a small amount of marketing for the new premium service.
Could this work? Could Daimler, in select cities, offer a Car2Go premium service using the two new entry-level luxury offerings from Mercedes Benz? Before you start the whole “this will cheapen the brand” let me remind you that these are (advertised) as sub-$30K vehicles. If there was any cheapening of the brand it happened when the products became barista lease-affordable.
Alix Partners LINK: http://www.alixpartners.com/en/MediaCenter/PressReleases/tabid/821/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/950/AlixPartners-Study-Indicates-Greater-Negative-Effect-of-Car-Sharing-on-Vehicle-Purchases.aspx