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(photo credit: Courtesy)
CAR2GO, the first Israeli car sharing company, officially launched operations in Tel Aviv on Tuesday after a successful six-month pilot project. At present, the company has 25 cars, 30 parking spots and 1,000 members.
CEO Yonatan Gadish said at a Tuesday press conference in Tel Aviv that the company hoped to have 100 cars, 80 parking spots and 3,000 members by 2010.
Some 400,000 people take advantage of car sharing in 600 cities in 18 countries around the world. Proponents say it reduces traffic congestion, pollution and global warming by reducing the number of cars on the road.
How does it work? CAR2GO members are given a digital card with which they order a car, open it and return it. Fees are charged by the hour and kilometer (gas and insurance included), starting with a package aimed at those who will need a car at least once a week that costs as little as NIS 9 per hour and NIS 0.95 per kilometer, in addition to a monthly fee of NIS 229. Two other plans offer slightly different rates.
All members pay a registration fee of NIS 149. Drivers must be at least 25 years old with at least two years of road experience. The company validates new members' licenses as part of the registration process.
For now, all of the cars and parking spots are in Tel Aviv, but CAR2GO has been in contact with other cities about expanding the program. It offers various models, ranging from the Mini Cooper all the way to a van, with most being Class C Chevrolet Aveos, Daihatsu Sirions or Hyundai Getzes, which are what you get with their package programs. You can add NIS 5 to NIS 20 for more upscale cars like the Mini Cooper or the Fiat 500.
According to Gadish, the company's 1,000 members can be broken down into two groups.
"Seventy-five percent use the cars twice a month for trips of on average 5.5 hours and around 60 kilometers," he said in a statement released after the press conference. "The other 25% are heavy users who drive about five times a month."
Most of CAR2GO's members are regular users who don't have another vehicle, he added.
US-based Zipcar and Flexcar became the largest car share company in the world with their merger in 2007. Together, they operate 3,500 vehicles and have 120,000 members. According to market research carried out on behalf of CAR2GO, the Israeli market could reach 70,000-105,000 members, although the company's business plan is based on 26,000 members during the first five years.