Ford launches car-sharing service in London
London cabbies protest on the same day. Yikes!
As car-sharing services become more popular, perhaps even ubiquitous in communities across the world one day, one thing is certain – conventional automakers want in. BMW and Daimler AG have already been conducting pilot car-sharing programmes of their own, and the latest player to join in is the American automobile manufacturer, Ford.
Ford’s service, called GoDrive, was launched last Tuesday in London, and allows users to rent cars (Ford’s, of course) by the minute. In its beta phase, the service offers only 50 cars across 20 locations to only 2,000 users, who have to be a resident of the U.K. and own a valid driver’s license, good driving record and an iPhone.
Why iPhone, you might ask. Reservation of one of the zero-emissions Focus Electric’s or the low-emissions Fiesta’s (with the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine) can only be made via an iPhone app for now (we hear Android users booing). After that, the user has 15 minutes to pick up the car from allocated parking spots near major public transport locations.
The first five minutes is free, which is the time it would take for you to adjust your seat, fiddle with the infotainment system and buckle your seatbelt; subsequently, the rate is 17 pence per minute. There is no initial sign-up fee, and insurance, fuel and congestion charges are included in the rate. This makes Ford’s service by far cheaper than BMW’s DriveNow, which charges 39 pence per minute excluding congestion charges. Zipcar charges £6 per hour, with a minimum one hour usage, on top of a yearly membership of £60.
GoDrive also allows users to drop the car off in another location, which is the flexibility and convenience that users requires, as other car-sharing services are now realising. Zipcar, which has been around since 2000, is only just testing out its ‘one-way’ service in Boston, but Ford appears to be ahead of the game.
The introduction of Ford’s GoDrive service in the city of London couldn’t come at a more awkward time. On the same day, London cabbies converged on Victoria Street near the Transport for London headquarters to stage a protest, demanding for stricter regulations on illegal taxi services, a.k.a. Uber. The cabbies have become increasingly frustrated at the lost of livelihood with the rise of unlicensed private hire drivers. With the expansion of car-sharing services as well, they will only find it even harder to make ends meet.
images: greencarcongress.com, theguardian.com