As mobility challenges continue to cripple Austin, residents will have one less option to get from place to place. On September 27, Car2Go announced via its website that it is ending service in Austin, along with three other cities, on October 31.
In the statement, Car2Go said the decision to leave the Capital City "was not made lightly."
"We have had to face the hard reality that despite our efforts, we underestimated the investment and resources that are truly necessary to make our service successful in these complex transportation markets amid a quickly changing mobility landscape," the company continued.
For the past decade, Car2Go has offered Austinites "free-floating car share," basically the opportunity to rent a nearby vehicle using a smartphone. Once booked, users are able to drive the vehicle within a predetermined zone inside the city limits per mile or minute, or rent for one-, two-, or three-day intervals for a flat fee. Once the trip is complete, the car is parked in any legal spot and users can be on their way.
Car2Go originally launched in Austin in 2009 using SmartCars, which it later transitioned to a fleet of flashy Mercedes-Benz cars and smaller SUVs. In addition to Austin, Car2Go is also pulling out of Calgary, Denver, and Portland by the end of October and Chicago by December 31.
The statement goes on to tout the importance of free-floating car sharing, but says it's struggling to move forward with the current business model.
"The transportation market is highly volatile, especially in North America. We are certainly not the only transportation player — from traditional automakers to ride-hail giants to micro-mobility disruptors — who have had to face this reality and adjust course. Ultimately, we know that in order to ensure the future of our business in North America, we have to think differently about where and how we operate."
Of course, for a city increasingly crippled by a lack of transportation options, not to mention one that has a spot among the world's most congested cities, any loss of an alternative is bad news. And with city and state leaders who have spent the past 10 years unable to come up with a solution beyond adding a lane to Mopac and I-35, it appears this may get much worse before it gets better.
As for Car2Go users, an email sent to current users notes that all rides must be completed by 11:59 pm on October 31, though they may notice fewer available cars around town in the coming weeks. Car2Go users can also continue using the service in the company's remaining North American cities: New York City; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Montreal; and Vancouver, cities the company says "present the clearest path to free-floating carshare success."
For Car2Go users across Austin, it appears one important question remains: Does this mean we have to ride scooters now?