Director of Business Innovation
Jerome Guillen, 37, has used Daimler's Smart brand to launch Car2go, a car-sharing service. Its program pilot, in Ulm, Germany, has attracted nearly 10% of the city's driving population; its first U.S. initiative begins later this year, in Austin.
"More and more people are living in cities, where more than 40% of households don't have a car. That percentage is increasing; people are giving up on ownership. We asked, How can we provide individual transportation to those who cannot or do not want to own a car?
Car2go lets people rent a Smart vehicle by the minute, hour, or day, and each one includes fuel, insurance, and cleaning. Eighty percent is spontaneous, meaning without reservations, and 90% of the time, cars are picked up in one spot and dropped off in another.
This flexibility allows us to reach the next generation of drivers. Thirty percent of our users in Ulm are between the ages of 18 and 25, and another 30% are between 25 and 35. Austin has 55,000 students downtown. They're not going to a Smart or Mercedes dealer-ship to buy a car. We want Car2go to be profitable on its own, but if it generates some brand loyalty that transfers to car purchases when people's situations change, obviously we would be delighted."
A version of this article appeared in the September 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.