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I had mentioned plans for it earlier, and in fact already pondered the idea on and off while being at the old house: Do I really need a car? And as a corollary: Do I need my own car?

The answer started to be a resounding No at least for the second question, after we moved to Hamburg. Which ever way I was looking at it:

  • Convenience – someone needs to drive the thing, I can’t hack or read email while doing so. I therefore prefer trains. Also, it needs the occasional service, wheels swapping, washing etc, so it adds to your chores
  • Economically – a car that just sits there still has a chunk of fixed cost per annum associated. Also, it is a comparatively expensive asset, that given the value, depreciates quickly
  • Ecology – owning an item or not certainly has an impact on one’s ecological footprint; trusting the University of California’s math, a car’s production entails the emission of roughly 7 tons of carbon dioxide (using it is even worse, but that would not be a fair comparison).

So with our usage pattern, and the above rationale, clearly we’d be well-served with one of the many budding car sharing offers that are available these days in Europe’s metropoles. If you pick a supplier that is either big enough, or managed to sign joint-ventures with sharers in other cities, you even have the added benefit of taking high-speed inter-city connects (train or plane), and getting into a car for local transport at your destination (for much less than the usual car rental will cost you).

But I admit that owning your car has some amount of emotions associated (damn you, marketeers!), so I’m happy to report this had been catered for: the appartement house we’re now living in not only has two shared cars exclusively available for the tenants, but they’re in addition pure electric vehicles!

The cars available are a Smart ED and a Renault Zoe, both in the 2013er version. Coming from a BMW, I can’t but mention that especially the Smart ED is pure fun to drive. While nominally, 55 kW power / 130 newton metres torque and a curb weight of a bit less than 1 metric ton does not sound exactly like a sports car, this thing kicks pure butt at every traffic light in the city. The engine characteristic is entirely different from a combustion engine – no gear box, no clutch, no automatic transmission, no revving up the engine before it generates enough power – just pin down the accelerator, and you instantaneously have full torque on your rear wheels. Still makes me smile. Therefore emotionally, I was sold as well (and so was my beloved BMW E39 touring, October last year already).


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