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Car Sharing Grows With Fewer Strings Attached –

Gordon Welters for The New York Times
Marc Clemens, in a Mini, said he used a car-sharing service more than once a day. Traditional station-based car-sharing services require members to reserve cars in advance.
Published: June 25, 2013

BERLIN — Marc Clemens, founder and chief executive of Sommelier Privé, an online wine service, gave up owning a car a year and a half ago. When he wants to drive to work in the morning, he checks his smartphone to see where a particular BMW, Smart car or Mini is parked and takes it.
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Gordon Welters for The New York Times
Car2Go electric cars at a charging station. One-way sharing has become more popular in Berlin.
Once he gets to his destination, Mr. Clemens parks the car on the street and forgets about it.

He relies exclusively on two car-sharing services, DriveNow andCar2Go. “I use this three to four times a day,” he said, as he dropped off a colleague in front of a wine bar in the German capital’s Mitte district on a recent Sunday evening. “To get to work, for business meetings, going out to a bar. I like it because it’s one-way.”

Car sharing has been around for decades in Europe and has caught on in the United States with Zipcar. These station-based car-sharing services require members to pick up vehicles from a particular place, which may or may not be convenient. Users usually need to reserve cars in advance for prearranged, prepaid blocks of time and, when they are done with the car, they have to return it to the same place — all factors that have limited car sharing’s attractiveness.

Berlin, though, has become the largest one-way, car-sharing city in the world. One-way or free-floating services, which recently started in the United States, use GPS and smartphone apps for far more flexible car sharing. Cars are parked on city streets, and users pick up cars parked nearest to them. Instead of bringing the car back to a lot, users leave it wherever they find parking near their destination. They are charged for the amount of time they spend driving.



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