06 February 2007


We've just signed up for a four-month trial of Mobility Car Sharing, a program that is quite popular here in Switzerland.

Essentially how it works is you pay a subscription to the service. You can then go online and book a car. You get charged an hourly rate for the time you actually use it plus a fee per kilometer.

The rates are about half those offered by the car rental companies. And it is substantially cheaper than purchasing, maintaining and insuring a personal car.

There are 1000 pick up sites around Switzerland, including one a short walk from us.

We'll see how it goes. If it works out, we may not bother buying a car.

My concerns are these:

1. While I know how to drive a manual car, I have a huge preference for an automatic. Especially with the many hills in Switzerland. However, manuals are the standard in most of Europe and it can be harder to arrange to rent an automatic, even at the large rental companies. They sometimes run out of them.

2. Since it is rented on an hourly rate, I have to wonder how convenient it would be to rent it for an entire week to either go on a driving vacation or if guests are visiting that are not as mobile as Switzerland requires.

3. What about last minute plans? How quickly can we get our hands on a car when we need one unexpectedly?

Any reviews from those who have used Mobility?

Meanwhile, I really want to go rent a Smart Car. Right now! Even though I haven't anyplace I need to go. They look so cute buzzing about the city. I really, really want to drive one of those sweet, little toys!


swissmiss said...

I haven't used Mobility myself (we lived in Small Village in the Middle of Nowhere when I first moved to Switzerland and a car was pretty much a must), but two of my good friends are members and have always been happy with availability even at last minute. If we didn't have the car I'd join based on everything I've heard. I don't know about the manual/automatic issue though

Sara said...

i dont belong to it myself, but ive heard it is great for availability, but maybe not such a good deal for a week long driving vacation (but you can always just rent a car from a regular rental place).
as for automatic vs stick i can say the more you do it the easier it will get, you may be surprised. i didnt know at all how to drive a stick when i moved over here (my first experience was a huge truck in a busy city, boy was that exciting!) and now i do it without even thinking about it!

The Big Finn said...

At least you know how to drive a stick. I never learned.

I'm looking forward to future posts regarding your experiences with stick vs. automatic.

Global Librarian said...

My parents insisted we learn how to drive a stick. As I recall, the primary reason was "in case you ever need to drive someone to the hospital and that's the only kind of car available."

I never learned how to start a manual car on a hill. In the United States when driving a manual I would simply avoid driving up hills where I would need to stop on the way. Very easy to do in the flatness of the Midwest. Somewhat more challenging in the Land of the Alps.

I gotta admit. Although the mountains are beautiful, I am definitely a flatlander by nature. I am not yet comfortable surrounded by hills and mountains. It is too alien for me. Sometimes the mountains even make me feel claustophobic.

Weird, huh?

It's Me said...

I much prefer manual, expecially on hills, because the control is that much better. Until you get used to it, and you will, pull on the hand-brake to hold your position when starting on hill, then gently start to go while releasing the brake.

In fact, until the current Volvo, I've never had an automatic transmission car I liked. (We won't discuss that Audi. I still shudder when I think about that POC.)

Ooh. Smart Car. Cool. I've been hearing about those for years. I want one. I think it is even smaller than my Spyder.

Jessica said...

Careful, smart cars drive differently!!
Please tell me how Mobility works out, i'm interested!
Don't worry about the stick shift thing. I learned in one morning, was driving alone on day 2, left it at xmas this year for six weeks and didn't have a hiccup yesterday when i had to drive again for the frst time. My advice: cry, scream, get it all out. it's frustrating as #R$@#. and then relax. it will come!

Jessica said...

oh, i can show you a good trick for starting/getting up hills...

Andreas said...

Smart has something of the hardest suspensions around though.

Just a warning: just because they fit in a parking spot sideways, don't! It's a ticketable offense. Plenty ticket vendors in Zurich (they pound the pavement all day looking for parking offenders)...

Starting on a hill:
1) Push brake pedal
2) Release hand brake
3) Slowly release clutch till hood starts going down (gears starting to catch)
4) Now simultaneously (gently!) release brake and clutch all the way

Takes some training, but you'll quickly get the hang of it.

Kirk said...

When my aunt and uncle visited a couple of years ago they rented a Smart Car to drive around Appenzell, but were sorely disappointed when they were given a four-door Smart Car instead of the usual tiny little two-door that you see around town. It was probably a more comfortable drive but a lot less fun.

GLD said...

And who would you be thinking of with not a much mobility such, as yourself.