MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new trend in commuting is growing in popularity around the Twin Cities.
Car2Go is a car-sharing service that allows members access to a vehicle without having to own one.
Amber Iwan knows city living rarely comes with a close parking spot. She walks a block to find a small, blue-and-white smart car – one of the newest ways to commute around the metro.
“I think that, psychologically, it’s an ideal fit for Minneapolis,” Iwan said.
As one of the more 5,500 Car2Go members in the Twin Cities, she has access to a car without having to own it.
A smartphone app helps her find the nearest vehicle. Members then use a card to scan a bar code to unlock the car.
Drivers can take the car and leave it at any destination around Minneapolis. Josh Johnson of Car2Go says the city does offer free spots near parking meters for Car2Go vehicles.
“The idea of free floating, where the members determine where the cars go,” Johnson said.
But free-floating vehicles can sometimes mean that cars aren’t always in walking distance, and this winter’s cold has created other challenges.
On this day, Amber’s car won’t shift into drive. It’s an inconvenience that’s met with a call to customer service.
“They’re usually pretty quick about answering me back, crediting my account if something went wrong,” Iwan said.
This winter’s snow emergencies have also been an issue. When no one owns a car, no one’s responsible for moving it.
Car2Go turned to its customers, offering free minutes to drive in exchange for moving a vehicle.
“Weather is a challenge,” Johnson said. “I mean, we’ve gotten through it.”
But small setbacks aren’t stopping continued growth. Less than a year in Minneapolis, Car2Go’s fleet has jumped from a couple dozen cars to 250.
While most drivers may not be ready to give up their own vehicles, sharing is offering new options for travel around town.
“It’s just a matter of getting people used to it,” he said.
Members pay a one-time $35 fee, and then they’re charged based on the time spent driving the car.