car2gether is a web-based ride sharing community arranging incoming offers and requests for lifts. The system takes advantage of the increasing use and acceptance and the many different communication possibilities offered by mobile internet. Rides can be arranged via smartphones on the way or from a PC at home.
The idea for this concept was developed by the Business Innovation division at Daimler AG which identifies business areas with future potential. Futurologists expect that due to the living conditions in cities, an increasing number of people will not own a car at all in future (“zero-car households”), Daimler says.
There is still a need for flexible, convenient and inexpensive mobility. With car2gether, we exactly offer these advantages and also encourage the more efficient use of resources.—Project Manager Michael Kuhn
Daimler is the first major car company to trial this form of mobility in a pilot project that tests intelligent and contemporary use of a ride sharing system especially for urban areas.
The official pilot phase will start in Ulm on 18 September and Daimler AG will test the car2gether concept in real-world conditions together with its partner Scientific Computers GmbH. All interested citizens of Ulm will be able to try out the ride sharing system. In addition, at the beginning of the winter semester car2gether will be presented to students at the universities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm.
The pilot phase serves to test specific individual functions of the system and the acceptance and use patterns of participants. Experience with the system will be gathered in close cooperation with the users. The findings will be incorporated in the further development and optimization of car2gether. In the 4th quarter of 2010 Daimler will extend the car2gether pilot project to a further city in Germany.
If users intend to offer or take advantage of a ride, they have first to register on the car2gether website and create a profile with their photo, mobile phone number and other personal information. There are no fees for registration or for the smartphone software required. Following registration, users can enter the desired starting time and the destination using their smartphone or PC. car2gether uses a complex algorithm to bring together rides offered and wanted and sends details of suitable drivers or passengers to the user.
Users can then confirm the journey via their mobile phone or PC. Once both parties have agreed to the journey, the journey details will be shown to both participants. Users can also receive text message or e-mail notifications.
The ride offers and searches are also displayed in the form of a live ticker on the car2gether web portal. This ticker, which is similar to Twitter, displays all offers and searches in a short form and is automatically updated every 15 seconds. If interested, users can get further details of the ride from the live ticker and directly opt for it.
The recommended charges for car2gether passengers are modelled on the car2go concept. Costs are not based on the distance travelled, but rather on the calculated driving time and they are charged by the minute. The recommended price to be paid by passengers to the driver is 9.5 cents per minute. During the pilot phase passengers will pay the driver in cash—but for the future an automatic, cashless payment procedure is planned. Using car2gether via website and smartphone applications will be free of charge in the pilot phase. The participants’ acceptance of car2gether models that are subject to a charge will be tested during the pilot project.
car2gether is integrated in the public mobility chain. The concept is an addition to car ownership and other means of transport. For example, free car2go smarts are displayed in the relevant map section on the car2gether website and on smartphone applications, and the user can book them immediately if interested.
If a suitable ride share is not found, car2gether is also able to show other ways of reaching the destination. For example, a taxi symbol takes the user straight to the central taxi switchboard in Ulm. For the future there are also plans to include information on public transport stops and departure times on car2gether.
The community idea of car2gether will also be addressed right from the start: a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account will integrate the system in the virtual world and promote communication between its users.
As an incentive for utilization of the new service, if 40,000 kilometers (24,855 miles) or more have been travelled after 80 days with the help of car2gether, Daimler AG will donate 20 cents per kilometer i.e. a total of €8,000 (US$10,000) to the community foundation Bürgerstiftung in Ulm.