Daimler & Europcar's car2go car sharing scheme pulls out of UK
In a statement, the firm said that it would pulling out of the UK from the 30th May 2014. The scheme was launched in London in December 2012 and expanded to Birmingham in May 2014, marking the 19th city around the world to offer the car2go scheme.
Wendy Ferris, car2go’s marketing and event manager, said: ‘We’ve listened closely to customer feedback and taking the UK’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership into account, we have decided to withdraw from the UK market place.
‘This is a long-term decision and we will continue to use the insights gained from our presence in the UK to develop, adapt and improve the concept of car2go, leaving the possibility of a return to the English market open in the future.’
She added: ‘As the world’s largest free-floating car sharing provider, we operate in a total of 25 cities around the world with more than 700,000 customers. We will continue to observe the UK market for cultural changes towards the “free-floating” model.’
Under the Birmingham scheme, drivers had to pay a one-off registration fee of £29.90 and could then locate any available car – the scheme used a fleet of smarts – get in and drive off.
Commenting on the announcement, James Finlayson, managing director of City Car Club – said to be the UK’s largest independent car club with operations in 17 cities – said: ‘Although Car2Go has been unable to make its business model work in the UK, the car club sector in general is in robust health – the latest figures from the industry show membership is up 9% this year on the back of five years of sustained growth.
'Our business model, which involves members returning the car to the original parking space rather Car2Go’s model where cars can be left across a given area, means we can offer our members a reliable service with cars available in consistently convenient locations, something which we have found to be essential when operating in large cities such as Birmingham.
‘In our experience it isn’t so much the UK culture of car ownership that’s the barrier, making people aware that there’s an alternative out there that’s the real challenge. Once people understand how car clubs work and the cost savings involved it’s often a no brainer for them – renting (whether it’s houses or designer handbags) is becoming increasingly the norm.
'We also don’t see car ownership and being a member of a car club as a binary choice, often people join us because they have only one car in the household and occasionally need access to a second car and our offering successfully fills that gap.’