From The New York Times: Car-Sharing Services Grow, and Expand Options
By STEPHANIE STEINBERG and BILL VLASIC
Published: January 25, 2013
WASHINGTON — As more companies and even nonprofits enter the fast-growing business of car sharing, they are offering consumers new ways to customize their short-term rentals for convenience, reliability and cost.
Take the expanding Car2go service from Daimler, the German luxury-car maker. It rents only two-seat Smart cars, charges customers by the minute instead of the hour, and allows for one-way rentals and free street parking.
That appealed to Austin Fossey, who turned to Car2go when his pregnant wife, Brooke, went into labor at 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. He pulled up the Car2go app on his cellphone and reserved a tiny Smart car parked near the couple’s home in Washington. Car2go was exactly what they needed — a one-way drive to the hospital, at 38 cents a minute, with free parking on city streets and no requirement to return the vehicle.
“We wanted to just drop the car off and not have to worry about it,” Ms. Fossey, 31, said in a recent interview as she held her newborn son, Ethan.
Car2go is one of about two dozen car-sharing services in the United States, and its one-way vehicle rentals are the latest wrinkle in the growing industry.
Providers range from small, nonprofit organizations to big corporations like Hertz, a longtime leader in the car rental industry, and Daimler, which started Car2go five years ago in Germany and now operates 1,800 vehicles in six American cities....