Turns out even the carless didn't really want the two seaters, when a Benz was available.

COURTESY: CAR2GO - Marquam down: Car2Go's remaining smart cars in Portland will be sold off at dealer auctions.

Car2Go is phasing out its SmartCars, the blue and white two-seaters which are part of its Portland fleet.

They will be gone by October 31.

Car2Go, which is based in Austin, Texas, has already been phasing them out there and in Denver, Colorado.

In Portland, Car2GO introduced to classes of Mercedes Benz cars in February. They are the CLA four door and the GLA five seater.

"By the end of October, they will be 100 percent Benz," said a company spokesman.

He said they got the idea to "de-fleet" the smart cars after looking at customer data and listening to feedback. "The Mercedes can seat more people, so they take more cars off the road."

Ken Hills is Car2Go's General Manager for Portland.

COURTESY: CAR2GO - Cool Benz. Car2Go is moving to all SUV format in Portland, after learning that its two seater smart cars were not very popular.

Gone in 15 days

"When given the choice, our Portland members have been choosing Mercedes-Benz the vast majority of the time since we first introduced them here earlier this year," said Hills.

The new all-Benz fleet will cost more. Currently Smart Cars are 41 cents a minute and Mercedes 45.

Car2Go is in 11 US cities, but has yet to implement a no-smart car policy.

"The smart cars were great for branding and visibility, but we heard from our members that they wanted another option, like when they had kids or for a trip to IKEA (to bring home bulky packages)."

Hills said the way customers use the service has changed. You can go up to 200 miles away (from Portland) and you don't have to have it back the same day.

Usage data showed the larger cars were used for longer periods, such as weekends away. Car2Go tries to be competitive with car rental companies by offering minute, hour and daily rates.

Smart cars are 41 cents a minute, $15 an hour or $59 for 24 hours.

A Benz currently costs 45 cents a minute, $19 an hour and $79 for 24 hours.

$40,000 retail

The Mercedes retail for around $40,000 each. The smart cars cost $18,000 new. The smart cars, mostly three or four years old now, will be sold off at dealer auctions. Hills says they might soon become fixtures around town with the car-owning class.

Hills said they had been hearing from members about wanting bigger cars well before ReachNow came into the market with its BMWs and Mini Coopers.

He said there were no plans to bring in other makes and models just yet. "It's always possible, we ask or members what better meets their needs? We have not thought about motorcycles though."

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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