Smart to lead Mercedes' assault on car sharing next year
Urban-friendly Smart will launch its car sharing scheme early next year, as it focuses on the ‘shared’ element of Mercedes’ four new key areas for its future
The service will allow individuals to set up a car sharing service through an app, which can be shared with friends, families or colleagues. It enables people to book a time to use the car and the owner can choose whether to charge for the service or not.
“We will enable everyone to be car sharers,” said Smart product manager Rouven Remp. “You can set up your own car sharing circle. It can work in private or smaller business environments. It is one of the big things we are doing in the next few years.”
Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche has previously described the scheme as “Airbnb for cars”. He said: “You enter your free dates and give thousands of members the ability to rent, unlock and drive your car, all with their smartphone.”
The sub-brand is pushing two of Mercedes’ four key pillars announced at the Paris motor show earlier this year, ‘shared’ and ‘connected’, with the remaining ones being ‘autonomous’ and ‘electric’.
With Smart leading Mercedes’ plans for car sharing, Remp said: “It makes most sense for Smart to do it.
“It perfectly fits to the urban lifestyle of people. We are especially focused on people in the city. People share their apartments so why can’t people share their car?”
Remp did not rule out broader plans for Mercedes to take on such a scheme. “We collect the first experience and, of course, we are in close exchange with our Mercedes colleagues and they might be willing to offer something similar in the future,” he said.
However, Remp is realistic about its broader uptake: “If you would ask me personally, I think you’d be rather reluctant to share your S-Class. With a Smart, it’s a bit easier.”
Alongside the upcoming car sharing service, Smart is working on its so-called ‘ready to’ services, Remp said. These involve a connectivity box in the car that allows you to access the car via your mobile phone. “We have a project running with DHL so Amazon packages can be delivered in your boot,” he said.