A new car-sharing service is about to join the likes of Zipcar and Maven in Chicago, giving residents who don't own a car new options for navigating the city. The Sun-Times reported that on Wednesday, City Council approved a pilot program from Car2Go, which will bring 500 cars to the streets of Chicago.
What sets Car2Go apart from other car-sharing services is its one-way structure, meaning that drivers can pick up a car, drive it to their destination and then park it so that it can be used by another driver. Unlike a Zipcar, there's no need to return Car2Go vehicles to a designated location—an app allows users to track down cars in their area and make a reservation. Car2Go will pay the city a fee so that customers are able to park in residential spaces, though the company is still working out a deal with the owners of Chicago's parking meters. The company will also employ rebalancers to make sure that cars don't become concentrated in a single area of the city.
According to the Sun-Times, the Car2Go pilot program has been cleared to launch as soon as May 1 (the service has not yet announced an official date) and will operate in an area bordered by Cermak Road to the south, Foster Avenue to the north and Kimball and Homan Avenues to the west. The eastern border of the service will extend to Lake Michigan in some places, but users won't be able to park in Lakeview or Lincoln Park, due to parking concerns raised by each neighborhood's aldermen.
Car2Go customers pay a one-time registration fee of $5 to gain access to the service, which offers compact Smart FourTwo cars as well as Mercedes sedans and SUVs. Pricing for rentals ranges from $0.32 to $0.47 per minute, $15 to $19 per hour and $59 to $79 per day.
Unless City Council moves to end or extend Car2Go's pilot, the service will initially be available in Chicago through June 30, 2019, which means you're about to see a lot more tiny Smart cars on the road this year.