A month after its Eugene debut, the car-sharing company car2go is still operating its 50 smart cars smoothly in the Eugene-Springfield area, unlike Uber, the ride-sharing service, which was fined $2,000 by the city of Eugene Nov. 17. The difference lies in their respective business models and how they reach out to new cities.
Car2go follows a model similar to a traditional car rental business. “They’re basically offering a short-term car rental, versus what Uber’s doing, which is basically offering a taxi service,” says Laura Hammond, Eugene’s community outreach and participation coordinator, about the difference between the two companies.
This means that car2go, in contrast with Uber, does not compete directly with local taxis, nor does it require licensing through the city as a public transportation vehicle.
But more than that, car2go adopts a more conciliatory approach when opening for business in a new city. “Car2go was very cooperative with the city,” Hammond says. “They actually came to us before they started operating.” For example, she says the company arranged with the city to pay parking fees, so that car2go customers don’t have to feed the meter when they park downtown.
As a result, car2go and city officials were able to reach an agreement about car2go well before any of the distinctive white and blue cars started showing up on the streets of Eugene.
Uber, on the other hand, did nothing of the sort. “They’re not really into coming in and working with people,” Hammond says of Uber. She says that since late July, Uber has been operating without cooperation from local officials. Uber was fined for operating without a city public passenger vehicle license.
“Every single one of our launches is like comparing apples to oranges,” car2go spokesperson Adrianne Andang says. Each city has different transportation issues, “which is why we work so closely with the city,” she says.
Eventually, Uber and the city of Eugene might find a compromise. “The council has been looking at changing some of the codes to see if Uber can operate legally,” Hammond says. “In the meantime, Uber needs to follow the law.” Uber has until Dec. 2 to appeal the fines.
Car2go faces no such regulatory obstacles and will continue business as usual.