Free-floating, cloud-based car sharing app car2go takes the keys

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For many city dwellers around the world, owning a car is more of a hassle than it’s worth.

First of all, where do you park it? In New York City, for instance, the cost of a parking spot starts at $100 per month on the low end up to $1 million USD for an underground spot in Soho. In fact, the average cost to buy a parking spot is over $100,000 in “The Big Apple”. With prices like that, who can even afford a car, never mind insurance, maintenance and gas?

With car2go, car ownership isn’t a necessity.

The successful business model

With its new business model, car2go is a new way of renting cars. Drivers can rent a car directly on the street using a smartphone. There’s no rental office involved. There’s no handling of keys. It’s a completely online business.

car2go cloud

When car2go started as a Daimler company internal pilot project in 2008, there was no established car-sharing business model. The car sharing program embodied the Internet of Things (IoT) before it was a buzzword by integrating vehicles, electronics, software and an app on a smartphone to offer ”getting from point A to point B” in a smart and elegant way for customers. And thus was born free-floating car sharing.

The foundation of the business

To develop this product and this service for customers, car2go needed a global operation, as well as a fast and agile way of provisioning IT resources because it needed to be able to scale.

When investigating how to accomplish this, the company found that the only way to do that was to work with one of the major cloud providers. It not only needed cloud resources, but also wanted to have additional services on top of those cloud resources.

This ability is uncommon with many of the current cloud offerings in the market. Most cloud providers only provide the cloud resources, with no additional services.

When the company added up all its requirements, the equation pointed at IBM Cloud including managed services from IBM Global Technology Services as the preferred platform.

The cars have modified onboard electronics including simcards from global telecom providers. To communicate, they need to integrate with customer-provided equipment (CPE) in cloud data centers. IBM is one of few cloud providers that allows this.

The car2go cloud data center enables communication between car2go members and cars. Commands are sent to unlock the doors and disable the immobilizer, allowing the car to start. Additionally, the data center houses all information needed so the cars can be shared among all car2go members.

Using the car2go app

When a driver registers with the car2go app, it scans and validates his or her driver’s license. It can then be used to find a car, select options, reserve a car and start a rental.

Everything is included: insurance, parking fees and a credit card inside the car, which can be used to refuel the car.

The car2go fleet managers care for the cars, including routine maintenance, repairs and yearly inspections.

A New Yorker with the car2go app can likely walk out the door and rent a car more easily than he could get to his remote parking spot to retrieve his own car. Members can drive a car2go any time day or night in all car2go cities worldwide.

Car2go believes car ownership is diminishing in importance, but people still have a need for mobility. That’s why the company is in business.

Read the case study for more details.

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