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Car2gone: Rideshare company announces Portland exit

Posted by on September 27th, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Some Portlanders are emotional about the news.

Just five years ago we triumphantly reported that Portland was the car2go capital of North America. That’s why the announcement that the company will cease operations here at the end of October is bumming out many low-car Portlanders.

In a statement to members today the company wrote on their website: “This decision was not made lightly. We have had to face the hard reality that despite our efforts, we underestimated the investment and resources that are truly necessary to make our service successful in these complex transportation markets amid a quickly-changing mobility landscape.”

At its peak in 2012, car2go had about 530 cars available to Portlanders. That equated to about 10.2 cars per square mile. car2go merged with ReachNow in 2018 and changed its name to ShareNow. Back in July, ReachNow removed 350 vehicles from their Portland fleet. According to The Oregonian, when combined with car2go’s departure, that’s about 800 fewer on-demand vehicles available to Portlanders as of next month.

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This is a big blow to the many low-car Portlanders who once enjoyed a top-tier bevy of options to having a car of their own. Judging by the response on social media we’ve seen so far, many people will have now likely consider buying a car.

“We have been a single car household since 2013 through the combination of Car2go and @trimet. This most likely means I’m back to having to own a car for those trips that trimet can’t accommodate,” said one user, expressing a sentiment we’ve heard from many people today.

This lack of low-car options comes at a time when many people face longer commutes after being priced out of housing close to their jobs. This demographic shift has had major implications for transportation in Portland. Some see it as a significant contributor to congestion, the decrease in bike to work trips, and the increase in electric bike sales.

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

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David LaPorte
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David LaPorte

So sad. I have never owned a car, but may be forced to buy one after this news.

maxD
Guest
maxD

this was great option for me. We are a one-car family. I commute by bike, but occasionally need to drive to job site or pick my daughter or something big and Car2Go was was my back-up. I preferred the old smartcars with the bike racks, but the mercedes are better than having to get an Uber or Lyft account. Ugh. I wish Portland would get serious about transit!

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

They should have used Toyotas.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Car2go, Reachnow, and the now closing offspring Sharenow were experiments by two big German Automakers to find a new market for their cars. Now that the worldwide auto business (as well as truck business in Daimlers case) has turned soft they are cutting their losses and getting out because they don’t have the excess cash to pour in to it.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

I’m in the same boat as many people who have depended on car2go and ReachNow along with TriMet and biking as an effective way to keep ours a one-car family. We used the car-sharing services with some frequency, and it appears many others did too; I’m honestly shocked that this wasn’t enough to sustain a business. Something doesn’t add up, given the apparent popularity of these services.

And yes, we’ll likely be forced to buy a second car now.

MTW
Guest
MTW

My family went car-lite a little over a year ago and we signed up for both Car2Go and ReachNow at that time. We used it only twice (and one time was just to see how it worked.) But still, this loss has me feeling a little exposed.

The infrequency of using it means we’ll still push on with 1 car for the household. But I’m pretty bummed about this.

raktajino
Guest
raktajino

the switch from SmartCars to larger, wider sedans was definitely when I stopped using them. I hate driving and I hate parking even more, and the bigger cars were just so much harder to manuever. (They’re still small vehicles! I’m not saying they’re behemoths! I just…prefer a bike.) They had less visibility and were more difficult to adjust for my short stature.

I tried driving one of the new cars once and never again. I wonder how many others were in my same boat?

Carlin
Guest
Carlin

Well there’s still Zipcar, Getaround, and Turo; all cheaper options than Car2Go.

I am sad to hear that Car2Go is leaving though because they’re the only company that offers one-way trips. But they also didn’t have service where I needed it, as I usually only need a car to drive outside of downtown. I think I used their service 6 times in 8 years of being car-less. By comparison, I use Getaround about 5 times a year.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> This lack of low-car options comes at a time when many people face longer commutes after being priced out of housing close to their jobs. <<<

Given where all the new housing is being built, I'd be willing to bet that average commutes are shorter today than they were 20 years ago. If so, it might be more accurate to write:

"This lack of low-car options comes at a time when an increasing number of people face shorter commutes due to new housing being built in Portland's inner urban core."

B. Carfree
Subscriber
B. Carfree

I’m kind of disappointed that there are people who think the loss of one car-share company is cause to buy another car (most of the people expressing the desire to purchase are car are already car users). The average cost of purchasing and operating a new car is now estimated to be over $8k/yr. That’s a lot of e-cargo bikes, car rentals, cabs and other car-share use. I doubt if car purchases make financial sense for very many people.

To be honest, I don’t really care about people’s finances. However, I do wish people would think long and hard about the true cost of a new car. The embodied costs alone are almost an individual’s entire “fair share” of emissions from now until 2030.

I would hope that there are many people who will use this change to further transition away from car dependence. I suspect there are many people who will do exactly that, but they aren’t ready to announce it.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

I am sad but not surprised…the shift from the useful and highly visible Car2Go Smart Cars was a big hit to the system and me. I have been a car-lite since 1988 and a Vancouver-Portland car share user since 2000 through most of the industry services: Car Share Portland => Flexcar + U-Haul => Zipcar + Car2GO …I guess now I am just Zipcar [& Hui (Honolulu)] customer. I loved the one-way option. We early car share managers and innovators and customers dreamed hard to get to oneway rentals as a service. I guess one step forward and two steps back… ;-(

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

After checking out the Car2Go website it seems they are doubling down on the top tier of mobility cities (what does that say about Portland, and even Chicago etc.?) and also shifting to Canada, it seems.

“We are now refocusing our efforts and our resources on the cities that present the clearest path to free-floating carshare success: New York City, Washington D.C., Montreal, Vancouver and Seattle.”

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

The whole tech enabled transportation sector is found to be way in front of their skis. Uber/Lyft drive like lost, incompetent tourists and they had to lie and deceive municipalities to even participate. The scooter thing distributes toys in sidewalks through out the city and now the car sharing is collapsing. I don’t think any of these enterprises being able to operate in the black. Recent science news articles reveal that autonomous vehicles have yet to perfect “seeing” which means that vulnerable road users have another threat to their existence.

From my perch Tech is just another bunch of self serving shysters lying to skim money from the unsuspecting populace.

Matt Meskill
Subscriber
Matt Meskill

I just signed up for Getaround. I guess I’ll have to give it a try.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Car2Go and ReachNow are owned by Daimler. Daimler also owns Moovel, which designs and runs the TriMet app and a lot of other mobility tools, including, I believe carshare and bikeshare programs overseas. With the exit of the Daimler luxury-car carshares from Portland, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a) a lower-end vehicle carshare product from Daimler/Moovel, b) entry into the market by lower-end carshare, like Enterprise Carshare, or c) a local start up using re-built previous generation Priuses for a Portland-only green-focus carshare.

Champs
Guest
Champs

By the end of our attempt to sign up we weren’t sure if it was a car share or a phishing operation. Months after giving up we can’t get off their email list either.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

My car subscription entails a $52 insurance bill, $50 for gas, and an average $100 for maintenance. The car is a mere 20 feet from my door and is always available. The car is well maintained, clean, and comes with a child seat. The service allows me to drive into the country anytime I want with no additional fees.

a.l.
Guest
a.l.

Nearly every time I see a car2go it’s speeding and/or being driven recklessly. IMO their per minute pricing encouraged this behavior. Good riddance.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

This is a bummer and will impact my transportation options in the short term, but perhaps we can learn from this failed experiment in privately run, for-profit, car-based solutions. After Car2go dropped their smart cars, raised rates, and shrunk their service area a few years ago they were already becoming a more boutique and exclusive service, a lot less useful to anyone living or working beyond 82nd Ave. It had been and was increasingly a transportation option of the economically secure. Uber is also offering more exclusive services apparently as a revenue generating strategy while allegedly having to subsidize their base rate trips to maintain market share. This too probably won’t be sustainable. Uber may go the way of Car2go in Portland and elsewhere. Is there folly in ever assuming that private for profit car-based solutions could sustainably increase transportation options and equitably transform our transportation system? Perhaps it is time to recommit and reinvest in public infrastructure for biking, waking, & transit and to land use and development policies that increase proximity between jobs, housing, and parks & nature…. for all income levels.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Umm, folks on this thread: Check it out and you will find Car2Go had the same parent company as Mercedes and Smart — and ReachNow had the same parent company as BMW. This suggests they were looking for ways to get revenue for their own cars that weren’t selling. They didn’t have the option of choosing Toyotas or what not.

matchupancakes
Guest
matchupancakes

Mike Quigley
He’s talking about the have-nots. Not the haves.Recommended 4

I heard what you saying as families are pushed further out and I also see the opposite which H,K is sharing: Childhood friends who grew up in Portland live in surprisingly affordable, relatively speaking, multifamily rentals where single family, detached housing had existed for decades previously. Richmond neighborhood is just one example that comes to mind.

My point is that these are not well paid transplants from elsewhere but Portland-born adults who are able to remain here due to the rapid expansion of new housing choices. Had the explosion of development not occurred they would have been displaced. Both haves and have-nots benefit from increased housing choices and overwhelmingly new multifamily units tend to be close in locations with correspondingly short commutes.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I liked Car2Go and used it occasionally, but I always thought it weird that Car2Go’s service area was so small AND was focused on downtown and inner SE Portland, areas already well-served by TriMet, Uber, Lyft, scooters, and other options. I live in fairly dense suburb of Portland with a neighborhood core, and I wrote to Car2Go several times to suggest they locate 4-5 cars in a “hub” in the neighborhood core. But the one time a Car2Go rep deigned to answer, he provided nothing but bureaucratic clap-trap that was probably written by a computer.

Also I hated Car2Go’s pricing by the minute, which encouraged speeding and raised my blood-pressure. They could have used a much-less-stressful distance-based pricing model. Oh well – nice try.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Good riddance!

I liked this service initially when it was small compact Smart cars. I hated myself for the multiple times I was feeling “lazy” and decided to take a car to or from work only to be reminded how much it sucks to be trapped in traffic. But it was still nice to have the option, even a hated one. But then they made it worse by ditching the small cars. My first experience with the new SUV models was at night and I couldn’t find the seat adjustment (they’re on the door, not on the seat!) and so drove miles across town cramped uncomfortably behind the wheel because I was not going to waste several dollars of rental time trying to learn which of the over 100 buttons controlled the seat. Yes, over 100 buttons (not to mention levers and knobs) adorn the insides of these beasts and distract you at every opportunity. And they don’t even have navigation maps on the dash (Error: disc not inserted).

Good riddance to huge wastes of space in a dense city.

Soon we’ll have shareable electric bikes and a compact rain cape can be kept in my pocket. Until then it’s a short rainy wait for the bus.

X
Guest
X

I grabbed a piece of junk mail and estimated that I’ve spent about $15,000 on full-time cargo bike access. Of course that was over more than two decades. Also I still have the bike.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

I wonder how many billions of dollars of vc money they blew threw.

Never really a fan as it only addressed the parking issue of everyone owning a car, not congestion. Just a band-aid.

Dan
Guest
Dan

A Reddit user suggested that “selling” cars to Car2Go was a way to game CAFE results, and with the policy changes at the EPA, this strategy went from a net positive to a net negative. Uncertain if that was just speculation or if they were certain about that, but it seems plausible.

9watts
Subscriber

soren
So have you ever been layed up by injury or illness? How did you get around?Recommended 0

I am not sure who you are asking, but doesn’t the phrase ‘layed up’ suggest the opposite? That you aren’t getting around, aren’t in the mood or able or inclined to? When I’m sick I’m not going anywhere.

My point was and is that if you don’t have a car, or aren’t used to having one at the ready, or maybe are just from another time, these spontaneously arising scenarios-that-seem-to-demand-an-auto-right-now which people mention here–suggest happen to them with some regularity–maybe just don’t appear. Maybe we’re just different that way.

Phil
Guest
Phil

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but what would need to happen for Trimet to get into offering a c2go style fleet?