Monica Nickelsburg, Geekwire:
AAA is expanding its GIG Car Share service beyond the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle. GIG will begin rolling out cars in Seattle this April and its full fleet of 250 Toyota Priuses will be deployed in the city by May.
Small Toyota Prius C cars seem like a much more sensible choice for car sharing than full-size German sedans and SUVs. Perhaps that will hopefully give GIG a better shot at amortizing the costs.
That said, a “full fleet” 250 cars is not that many (Car2Go and ShareNow had 750 each), so it’ll be interesting to see how GIG keeps them in use and not semi-abandoned in the far-reaches of the city, while maintaining equity.
Three fundamental challenges to the car share model remain: (1) Uber/Lyft are underpriced, (2) the addressable market is small, and (3) finding a parking spot at your destination is annoying. In addition, the bifurcated Seattle market presents a particular challenge: if you live in an urban village, you likely have good transit service already. If you live outside an urban village, parking is abundant and easy so why bother?
To be sure, GIG can make progress on some of these (apparently they have dedicated parking at BART stations), but others require a rethink from a city level.
(Oh, and don’t take the cars out of cell phone range).