By on December 12, 2014

463x260_finden_BildimTab

The lives of Millennials are often filled with regrets about the previous night. You spent too much money on craft beer; you lied to your eco-aware, renewable-resource-friendly, feminist-ally boyfriend about your whereabouts so you could meet some convicted felon in a stairwell of an “Aloft” hotel and have unprotected intercourse; that old Ra Ra Riot song came on and you started crying so hard you pissed yourself.

But for many Millennials and people of other generations as well, last night’s strongest regrets have to do with a car-sharing service.

My friend Amanda, a Gen Y-er with whom I once devised and performed “The Vodka Challenge”, an almost successful attempt to compare fifteen different kinds of vodka in thirty minutes, tested the car2go early this year. (In case you care, the Vodka Challenge was derailed by the unexpected arrival of projectile vomiting on Shot 13 at the twenty-five-minute mark.) She wasn’t terribly impressed and to my knowledge she hasn’t used the service since.

To be fair, however, I don’t know where she was last night. If she was using a car2go, she probably encountered issues. Members of the service received the following email this evening:

Yesterday, at 4:30pm CST, our car2go vehicles experienced a disruption in service that was directly related to our Germany-based mobile provider. At that time, our provider had undergone a malfunction within their network that disabled cell phone roaming, resulting in a break in remote connection with all of our car2go vehicles across North America and their network in Germany. Thus, members were not able begin or end their trips until the issue was resolved at 12:54am CST today.

Actions are quickly being taken to mitigate this occurrence from happening again, but in complete transparency, since we are only 24 hours fresh, we are at the beginning stages of analysis to understand the root causes with our provider. Stability of our network has always and is still a core focus, but last night’s disruption strengthened our resolve to get a solution more quickly.

We all here at car2go feel the disappointment and the distress that we put many of you through. We heard it through phone calls, tweets, posts, and emails since the disruption started. For those members who have shared, “That’s it…I am done with car2go.” I totally understand why. But I hope that you know that each of us here are members as well, and that with each heartfelt apology we wrote – we sincerely meant it. We didn’t shy away from this event – we owned up to it as quickly as we found out, and worked throughout the night to communicate to all of you via the channels we have in the toolbox. Are there things we need to improve with the communications? There’s always room for improvement, but please know that it was my call to utilize the resources we had to its maximum impact.

For those who were directly impacted, our teams will be in contact with you shortly, if they haven’t already. For many of our members who were indirectly impacted, I can tell you that it is on us to restore your faith in our service in the days, months, and years to come.

After this week’s announcement of car2go being the largest carsharing company in the world, I could look at this as a huge embarrassment. But to be honest with you, last night’s disruption was a defining moment for us. It showed me – and all of our team members across North America – that even though we are the largest carsharing company in the world, we remained true to you, our members – that during a sensitive time, we demonstrated the responsibility and the compassion as a leading brand should. I saw and heard the grace our car2go team exhibited into the early morning hours working on this issue, and I also saw and heard the many of you say “Thanks, car2go – we still love ya.” And that, that means the world to us.

On behalf of car2go, I truly apologize for the inconvenience and trouble that the disruption caused you, and I want to promise each of you that, as a company, we will continue to improve and innovate our service to help you get from Point A to B with complete ease. And for those who have expressed their disdain for our apologies, I ask that you don’t put that on our team – the team who will be working hard the next several days on this, put that anger on ME.

Paul DeLong
Chief Marketing Officer
car2go NA, LLC

All told, I like the communication, even if the event probably soured a lot of people on the idea of car-sharing for a little bit. However, it absolutely solidified my belief that car-sharing services are aimed at the youngest of adult generations, and I’ll tell you why: Pretty much nobody ever voluntarily told a group of Vietnam or Iraq veterans to “put that anger on me”. Doing so would be a good way to get forcibly decapitated. That last person to do that was probably Brian Dennehy in Rambo. I can hear it now:

“car2go drew first blood, sir. They drew first blood.”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

41 Comments on ““About Last Night” — car2go Implodes...”


  • avatar
    nickoo

    I guess you could call me an old millennial, but I think tail end of gen X fits better (born in 82), and an Iraq vet…but anyways, car2go is a nonstarter among my peers, I don’t know a single person who ever used it here in SoCal. Uber on the other hand, is the ride of choice when public transportation or driving your own car won’t do.

    • 0 avatar
      swester

      Can confirm: I used to use Car2Go pretty frequently, but by the time Uber-X took off in the past year or so, I can count the number of times I’ve used Car2Go on one hand. It just doesn’t make economic sense in most instance.

      If you’re going out at night and simply don’t want/can’t drive home: Uber-x is better.
      If you’re taking a one-way trip: Uber-x is better, since you don’t have to stress about finding parking at in your destination.
      If you’re getting a large amount of goods or groceries: a Zipcar (or your actual vehicle) is probably better.
      If you’re taking a day trip or longer: get a rental car.

      Basically, I can’t think of a situation where it really makes much sense. Maybe doing a lot of quick, small errands?

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve used Uber-X twice in a pinch when I simply had no way else – a few weeks ago, I wholesaled an F-150 to an Orlando Ford dealer and had to get from there to my ride I bought at Manheim Orlando in Ocoee lierally 30 minutes across town. Plus, it was cold and downpouring. Cost me $38 as opposed to ~$60 for a traditional cab and the guy was there in like 90 seconds in a nearly-new Versa sedan. I used it again today to drop a Lincoln off for brakes a few miles down the road and the return ride cost me $4.70.

        A carsharing service only makes sense to me if you live a lifestyle like you mentioned, i.e. don’t own a car or have very limited access to one and need to do your ‘weekend shopping’ with it, something typically the domain of a private-hire cab or driver, but with your own convenience. Or, if you’re using a car for a day’s worth of driving in a locale you’re visitng, which would beg the question – why wouldn’t you just go to Hertz and rent a REAL car for the same daily special?

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          There are a few big advantages for car sharing versus normal rental cars:

          1) Convenience. If you live in a big city, your nearest Zipcar is probably a ten minute walk away. For rental cars, you either have to rent during the 9-5 M-Sa hours of a local branch (if you have one), or head to the airport (hello, $30 cab ride, or an hour on transit).

          2) Insurance and gas are included. If you’re not otherwise insured, insuring a rental car can tack on $25+ a day.

          Also, Zipcar at least has vans and trucks, which can be nice for the compact car owner.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        I don’t get it myself. Basically, it is either for getting home or getting to the airport, both traditional taxi services (and presumably you have to somehow get to the car2go lot). The goods or groceries might work, but I don’t think they are renting vans/trucks (and doesn’t Lowes rent them for such?).

        This is on top of a situation where they really only make sense in NYC, Chicago, San Jose/Oakland/SF, Washington DC (and pretty much downtown areas only for some of them). Zipcars might be great where they work, but don’t expect them to work many places.

        • 0 avatar
          probert

          The areas you indicate represent about 80% of the US population.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            SF: 837,442
            SJ: 998,537
            OAK: 406,253
            CHI: 2,719,000
            NYC: 8,406,000
            ————–
            13,367,232

            for S&G add

            LA: 3,884,000
            BOS: 645,966
            DC: 646,449
            ————–
            18,543,647

            US Population: 316,100,000

            So… 18.5 million is…

            18543647 is what percent of 316100000
            = 18543647 / 316100000
            = 0.058664

            Converting decimal to a percentage:
            0.058664 * 100 = 5.87%

            So what about the 80% figure?

            What is 80% of 316100000
            = 80% * 316100000
            = 0.8 * 316100000
            = 252880000

            So 252,880,000 people live in heavily urban areas?

            Try again, his argument is valid.

            https://www.google.com/search?q=population+of+san+francisco&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

            https://www.google.com/search?q=population+of+san+francisco&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb#rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&q=population+of+chicago

            https://www.google.com/search?q=population+of+san+francisco&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb#rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&q=population+of+nyc

            https://www.google.com/search?q=population+of+san+francisco&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb#rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&q=us+population

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            @28-Cars-Later

            Obviously 80% is an exaggeration, but your numbers omit a lot of areas where car sharing is not only practical, but popular today.

            Just in the Boston area, you’ve excluded Cambridge (where Zipcar was founded), Somerville, Arlington, Brookline, and Watertown — those total about 320,000 people. Likewise, just Arlington and Alexandria, VA are about half as big as DC proper, not even counting the Maryland side.

            You’d also want to include smaller cities like Portland and Austin, and big chunks of cities like Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. Car sharing is particularly effective in places where transit is adequate but not excellent.

            Add to that a long list of college towns across the country — Ann Arbor, for instance, population 117,000.

            All in, I would guess you’re looking at closer to 25% of the population. Not 80%, but not 5% either.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    When I read of Daimler’s plans to use their otherwise-unsaleable misnamed “SMART” cars on this carshare scheme…I immediately thought of (who else?) Malcolm Bricklin. Saddled with a few thousand unsalable Subaru 360s, after Consumer Reports condemed the proto-kei car as a deathtrap…he decided to make them track go-carts and open a chain of racetracks!

    Didn’t work out, but you gotta give points for thinking outside the box.

    Likewise this. Maybe it can work. If I lived in a rabbit-warren city where every parking space was more dear than the square-footage of my cubicle apartment…the carshare plan MIGHT make sense.

    But it’s an anti-car approach. It’s a taxi service without a driver. MOST of what car ownership and use is about, THIS LEAVES OUT.

    I hope it works. Because there’s no other imaginable use for all those not-so-SMART cars.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Unfortunately for Daimler, everything that normal cars do better than Smart cars, they still do better on an hourly basis. If you had the choice between a Smart and a Fit for a Costco run, which would you choose?

      The biggest advantage to the Smart car is that it fits sideways in a parallel parking space. Unfortunately, parking that way is illegal in most of the US.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    For whatever reason, this WordPress software doesn’t want my comment. This is the third attempt.

    When I read of Daimler’s plans to use their otherwise-unsaleable misnamed “SMART” cars on this carshare scheme…I immediately thought of (who else?) Malcolm Bricklin. Saddled with a few thousand unsalable Subaru 360s, after Consumer Reports condemed the proto-kei car as a deathtrap…he decided to make them track go-carts and open a chain of racetracks!

    Didn’t work out, but you gotta give points for thinking outside the box.

    Likewise this. Maybe it can work. If I lived in a rabbit-warren city where every parking space was more dear than the square-footage of my cubicle apartment…the carshare plan MIGHT make sense.

    But it’s an anti-car approach. It’s a taxi service without a driver. MOST of what car ownership and use is about, THIS LEAVES OUT.

    I hope it works. Because there’s no other imaginable use for all those not-so-SMART cars.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I live in Pacific Beach, so I still see these little blue and white electric Smart cars on the road from time to time. It seems like I used to see far more of them a couple years ago. I agree that Uber and Lyft are eating their lunch, since my young friends that used to utilize car2go to accommodate their drunken transportation needs have moved on.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nonsense. That communication was 4 paragraphs too long. I’m no millenial, but I can’t imagine a millennial taking time to read all that emo crap.

    All they had to say was “we’re sorry for the trouble, and we’ll fix it straight away”.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Yes, I have to imagine there’s a whole lot of TL;DR going on right now in car2go users minds…

      Doesn’t car2go have a PR department/company to properly craft these things?

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        Agreed. It feels like a first draft, and is too emotional, which to me makes it feel unprofessional. Also defensive in some places.

        I also didn’t like statements like this:

        “We didn’t shy away from this event – we owned up to it as quickly as we found out, and worked throughout the night…”

        Instead try:

        “We acted on this event immediately – as soon as we found out, we worked through the night…”

        Hated this line as well:

        “…during a sensitive time, we demonstrated the responsibility and the compassion as a leading brand should.”

        Statements like that should be reserved for in-house communication, not outward-facing statements.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Car2Go makes sense in Toronto for one simple reason, parking costs.

    Car2Go allows one way trips and their cars are parked in Toronto Municipal lots.
    The cost to park in Toronto is often more than the rental cost. You book your Car2Go pick it up from a lot drive it to where you need to go, drop it at the closest lot and if you can drive after you just pick it up again and then drive it back.

    Taking a cab over a certain distance would cost more.

    Taking your own car and parking it would also usually cost much more.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Pftt… when *I* were a lad we puked in our own cars.

    Taught you consequences.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    We all here at car2go blame this disruption on our Germany-based cell phone service. Who would have thought a cell phone service might lose service? Not us. (Only that outspoken person we fired, who railed about that fact.) Stability of our network is a core focus … is a great slogan we’ll adopt, starting today.

    We all here at car2go feel the disappointment and distress of looking like utter buffoons, which is probably similar to what our customers felt last night.

    We all here at car2go owned up to this very quickly. See? We did. Yes quickly. We rock at apologies.

    Insert tangent-blurb about how large and great we are .

    We read the negative tweets, posts, and emails. And we feel… something. And when people write “Thanks, car2go – we still love ya.” then we truly know that buying those bloggers last year was really worth it.

    We all here at car2go will and mention and and .

  • avatar
    Toad

    “you lied to your eco-aware, renewable-resource-friendly, feminist-ally boyfriend about your whereabouts so you could meet some convicted felon in a stairwell of an “Aloft” hotel and have unprotected intercourse”

    That line made my morning; it may put a smile on my face all weekend.

  • avatar
    dwight

    I have a drive and drink thing going on with this service. i use their car to go to an event, dump the car, drink, take a cab or transit home. Or if I’m going to an event after work, I’ll drive the car2go to work and park it in a designated lot then take transit home after the event.

  • avatar

    The Bigger Picture of course is that parent company Daimler started the Car2Go program because of the dramatic sales since the ForTwo’s conception some 15 years ago. Smart has the dubious honor of being the biggest loss-making car venture in Europe, with a reported loss of close to 6,000 USD till 2007 per Smart car. It is still hemorrhaging around 1,500 USD per car. So, car sharing, nothing more than an extra outlet, made/makes a lot of sense in that respect… until companies like Uber showed up, unattached to whichever automotive hardware or type of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Thanks, voyager. I know nothing of these millennial scams/start-ups and that is a mirthful tale of Germanic stupidity breeding desperation.

      Like the ancient Good & Plenty choo-choo commercials:

      Schadenfreude Schadenfreude Schadenfreude Schadenfreude *woo-woo!*

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      To be fair, that supposed loss on Smart cars was a one-time writedown 10 years ago, making-up for a business plan from 20 years ago.

      The total amount of the writedown wasn’t that big (in car industry terms), and it shows how expensive it is to establish a new brand. Daimler-Chrysler operating profits were huge in 2005, so they decided to get a liability off the books in one shot. Probably saved a billion in corporate taxes.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Lots of “Pub Crawls” probably got cancelled due to this snafu.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’ve seen a few of the car2go Smarts in my neighborhood and wondered why they hadn’t moved – they seldom are parked in the same place for long. A couple had parking tickets, one for blocking the street sweeper, another that had backed into a small space between cars, with the front end sticking out. The former might have been due to the breakdown, the latter due to the member not being smart enough to drive a Smart. Who pays the tickets?

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Car2Go bills the user responsible for the ticket.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        An interesting concept…how does that work in say NYC? Let’s say you park the car and street cleaning is two days out. If no one uses the car in those 2 days and it thus gets a street cleaning ticket, is the last person who used it responsible for the ticket? Because that would be some bullshit.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    But aren’t “kids moving to the city” supposed to be “embracing” mass transit, and being ‘green’? All those cars and cabs running around, getting stuck in traffic, taking them to bars and home, are not ‘green’, unless magically propelled.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Hmmm, an inconvenient truth

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Half of a car’s lifetime carbon footprint is in the manufacturing of it, so putting less of them on the road (and using those on the road more efficiently) does significantly reduce environmental impact.

      Plus, not owning a car means you can live in a place with less parking — which is more likely to be dense and walkable. People don’t take Uber to work every day; they take the subway to work and Uber out at night once or twice a week.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’m not sure how much of it is embracing mass transit, and how much is rejecting a car-centric lifestyle. It’s not to say there’s no need for a car, just not enough to justify owning one. Car sharing and taxis play a legitimate role, especially at closing time after the subway’s stopped running.

      I also wouldn’t be shocked if someone’s done a study to prove that one’s less likely to use a car (ergo, less pollution and gridlock) if there’s a definitive price tag to each trip.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    You have quite a way with words Jack. I think your tone, vocabulary, and writing style are ideal for the blog world.

    The whole Car2Go company is merely a face saving exercise by Daimler in my view. Few willingly buy the cars new or used, but they probably have to keep the factory churning for a variety of reasons so someone cooked up the idea of selling them to a Daimler subsidiary and attempting rent on the go. I’m sure there are tax or accounting advantages as well for Daimler if the subsidiary takes a loss. If you look at the Wikipedia page they only seem to own a few thousand examples worldwide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car2Go

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The whole Car2Go company is merely a face saving exercise by Daimler in my view. Few willingly buy the cars new or used, but they probably have to keep the factory churning for a variety of reasons so someone cooked up the idea of selling them to a Daimler subsidiary and attempting rent on the go. I’m sure there are tax or accounting advantages as well for Daimler if the subsidiary takes a loss. If you look at the Wikipedia page they only seem to own a few thousand examples worldwide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car2Go

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Very interesting , I’m learning much reading this .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Probably regarding Car2Go being a way to keep Smart production running.

    However, it looks like car sharing services are here to stay.

    On the weekend took my youngest into downtown Toronto to meet my oldest and attend a show. Took the subway as the last time we went downtown, got stuck for over 2 hours when the Police closed the Don Valley (parking lot), making what should be a 35 minute drive a 4 1/2 hour ordeal.

    Driving into downtown Toronto with all its construction and a Leaf game that night is a recipe for disaster.

    The subway got us there quickly. However my oldest called to say that she was running late, stuck in a ‘not great’ part of town and that the streetcar line she intended on using was experiencing problems.

    So we grabbed a Zipcar, raced across town, picked her up and got back in time for the show. The Zipcar cost was $12.95 (plus tax) including gas for the minimum 1 hour rental.

    Public transit would have cost us $15. A cab for her would have been at least $25.00.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Varezhka: This car feel like an “Accord+” which is not the worst place to be given how good the current...
  • ToolGuy: Something like 14.6 million union workers in the U.S. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
  • ToolGuy: Lesson learned just now: If you double-post (by clicking the button rapidly) you lose the chance to Edit...
  • ToolGuy: @Tagbert, There are two ways to leave a comment: A) Hit the “REPLY” button under a previous...
  • ToolGuy: @Tagbert, There are two ways to leave a comment: A) Hit the “REPLY” button under a previous...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber