By the time we fully get up in the morning, most of us will have read news highlights and browsed our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Then it’s a quick e-book download, congratulating an old university friend on his birthday, booking a holiday, and sub-letting the flat – all over coffee and breakfast toast. We are increasingly getting used to a world where everything is instantly on-demand, on-order, available, and downloadable. Long-term planning is a dinosaur, as long as we roam the virtual world.
But it’s when we reach the interface to the “real” world, on our way to work, school or simply beyond the reach of our internet connection, that our expectations of convenience reach their limits. Those of us who use a car may be on-demand in a mobile sense, but still have to deal with many other things: steering, maintenance, filling up at the pump, parking space charges. Plus, the car is more often just standing around than not – so pretty much “off-demand”.
Of course, we can also be urbanely mobile via bus or train. But does this allow us to be spontaneously mobile? When our friends call to “meet up for a quick coffee” or our flatmate asks for a stack of books from the library is when we realise that being flexible and on-demand should be different. Most of the times we can’t just “turn back” – the new destination is many stops away and the frequent changes make the journey inconvenient. You can really only take as much as you can carry anyway and eventually it’s the end of service hours – game over.
With car2go, Daimler AG has brought a solution to the market which allows for and simplifies those little, every day change of plans: “get in and start driving – anywhere and everywhere”. The car2go smart cars are spread throughout the inner city and can be rented, virtually at the press of a button – spontaneously, with no need for a pre-booking and especially without the need for a set time limit. And you won’t have the car “weighing you down” when you no longer need it. At the end of the rental you can simply park the car in any parking space within the set rental limits. If you want to keep going or make your way back, choose another car2go or other form of transport – bike, bus, train or taxi. What started as a small idea three and a half years ago has been growing rapidly. car2go is already available in eleven cities, and at the end of April Berlin will be one of them. 1.5 million rentals is proof that there is a desire for spontaneously available mobility.
car2go is an example of networked mobility. But can’t we do more? Can this be it? Where can this journey take us? How will “urban mobility” develop in the future? We would like to talk and discuss these questions with you at re:publica 2012.