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car2go launches car-share service in Chicago, return vehicle almost anywhere

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Rent a Mercedes-Benz car or a two-person smart vehicle


An app-based car-share service, car2go, recently launched a pilot program with 400 cars in Chicago. The Germany-based company lets members rent Mercedes-Benz cars or smart vehicles for short trips.

The key difference between car2go and competitors like Zipcar is that users don’t have to drop off the car where they picked it up. In fact, cars can be left anywhere within Chicago’s “home area.” So, that means public, non-metered street parking or a dedicated car2go spot. And yes, that even includes permitted residential areas.

Essentially, it works similarly to dockless bikes or scooters—leaving behind the requirement of returning something to its original spot and making one-way trips less cumbersome. Chicago residents who sign up for the service and use the code CHI2018 before the end of August get a $15 credit. After that date, registration for the service will cost a one-time $5 fee.

The boundaries of the home area include 29 square miles, extending from Cermak Road north to Foster Avenue, and from Kimball Avenue and Homan Avenue eastward to portions of Lake Michigan.

The car2go membership is free and rates include parking, insurance and fuel. No reservations are needed, but for longer trips its recommended. Use the app to locate cars nearby, buy a trip package and unlock the car. There are three types of cars available which drivers pay per minute to use—a smart vehicle, Mercedes-Benz CLA and Mercedes-Benz GLA. For a 30 minute trip package, it would cost about $7 or $10.

“This pilot program demonstrates Chicago’s commitment to transportation innovation and providing reliable ways to travel the city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing car2go succeed and grow, offering a new transportation option in neighborhoods across Chicago.”

The company’s initial program was approved by City Council back in March. Others who showed support at the company’s announcement include 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett and 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins.

car2go has 3.3 million members and is available in Austin, Denver, New York City, Washington D.C., Portland, and Seattle. Those who are signed up in the U.S. can use the service anywhere in North America, including Canada. The company is also in 14 European cities and one in China. Recently it moved into new North American headquarter offices in Austin. The service also pulled out of Miami, citing Florida’s high rental car tax.