BikePortland

No more bike racks! Car2go phasing out Smart cars in favor of larger vehicle


(Photo: Car2go)

Those cute blue and white cars that have become nearly ubiquitous on the streets of Portland in recent years are going away. Car2go, a carsharing company with 54,000 members in Portland, announced today they will phase out their compact, 2-seater Smart cars in favor of a larger vehicle.

The news is being received with some jeers from the many users of the service who liked not just the small size of the Smart cars but the fact that they came with a bike rack. A 2015 survey from the company found that sixty-eight percent of their Portland customers biked at least once per week, and 37 percent biked five to seven times a week. 76 percent of survey-takers said they wanted bike racks the local fleet.

In a statement, Car2go said they made the move to the larger, “fun and sexy” Mercedes-Benz models due to “overwhelming usage data and member feedback.” They’ll now offer the Mercedes-Benz GLA (a small SUV) and CLA (a four-door sedan). The transformation of the fleet should be complete by the end of this month.

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Just how small were those Smart cars? Here’s an image with a bicycle rider for context:

And here are the new vehicles:

(Photos: Car2go)

Unlike the two-seater Smart cars, the new vehicles will seat up to five people. “The increased passenger capacity of car2go’s new Mercedes-Benz vehicles,” Car2go says, “further enable car2go to move even more Portlanders around the city using fewer cars.” The Benz models get about nine fewer miles per gallon (in the city) than the Smart cars.

Based on strong support from members, Car2go outfitted half their Portland fleet (about 475 vehicles) with bike racks back in 2015. While the Mercedes models won’t have a bike rack, the company said on Twitter this morning that, “The GLAs have foldable rear seats and plenty of space for a bike in the back!”

Even if it can fit, we’ll miss the quirky aesthetic and bike advocacy impact of seeing bikes on the back of the Smart cars.

(Photo: Carl Larson)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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