Car-sharing company Free2Move launches in Columbus

Columbus Underground announced earlier this month that a new car-sharing company is coming to Columbus. Today, Free2move officially launched in the city, rolling out the first of what will eventually be 150 Jeep Renegades to the streets of Columbus.

The company offers a one-way, “floating” service in which people use an app to locate and unlock cars, then rent them by the minute. The cost of parking, insurance and petrol is included in the price.

A virtual event held today for local media provided more details on how the service operates in Columbus. The cost to rent a vehicle here will be 56 cents per minute, and a few promotions are in place for launch – new users can receive $50 credit with promo code COLUMBUS, and can also get credit by inviting a friend to join .

About 30 of the cars are currently parked in public spaces within the company’s service area, which includes downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods, as well as parts of Linden, Clintonville and Fifth by Northwest.

Shant Mouradian, the company’s chief operating officer, said he expects between 20 and 30 cars to be added per day, until the company has rolled out the 150 cars allowed under his agreement with the city.

Robert Ferrin, the city’s assistant parking services manager, previously said the company will make an upfront payment that “will include consideration of lost meter revenue and likely a per-vehicle fee to operate in the city,” and that Free2move will have a chance to renew the agreement annually.

Users will be allowed to complete their rides anywhere within the established boundaries of the service area, parking in any open public space. This includes on-street spaces within a residential permit area as well as many metered spaces (except short-term meters that last less than two hours).

The company also offers longer-term rentals in which drivers can reserve their own dedicated car (not one of the branded Jeep Renegades) for around $400 per week or, through a subscription service, pay for access. to a car for $699 per month.

Free2move currently operates in four US cities, as well as several European cities. Mouradian said he thought the demographics of Columbus matched the company’s target audience very well, and that city staff reacted early on to the idea of ​​bringing in a new car-sharing provider.

Although ZipCar offers a limited number of round-trip car rentals in Columbus, Free2move will be the first one-way car-sharing company to operate in the city since car2go, which offered small two-seater rentals from late 2013 to May 2013. 2018.

Unlike car2go vehicles, the Renegade offers optional five- and four-wheel-drive seating.

“In a city where there are really four seasons, weather-wise, we wanted a vehicle that was not only comfortable but could be used all year round,” Mouradian said, explaining that the cars also offer good fuel economy. and a footprint. similar to that of a mid-size sedan. “We wanted to make sure we had a footprint that wouldn’t take up a lot of space in the city.”

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The service area, where cars can be found and where they can be parked at the end of a trip – courtesy of Free2Move.

Bonny J. Streater