May 31, 2015
Car 2 Go Go
Yeah baby, Austin Powers probably got around in one of these.
Anyone who thinks Car2Go, or any of the other car sharing programs, is an icon of our modern times will be surprised to learn that the concept is actually an old idea.
A visit to the Amsterdam Museum reveals that share cars go back to the 1960s. A product of Amsterdam's Provo counter-culture movement, they were invented by industrial designer Laud Schimmelpennick as a whacky yet serious solution to the city's severe traffic congestion.
Called "the White Car" they looked like a cross between a 2-seat golf cart and a kitchen blender, but they operated in much the same way that Car2Go vehicles do today. They were parked at designated stations throughout the city, powered by an electric charge, and used by members who gained access via a key card that was monitored by a central computer. (And this in the day when computers filled a room and spewed out key punch tape.)
At the height of its popularity, the White Cars had 35 cars and over 2,400 members, however the scheme did not receive enough financial or political support to make this form of public transportation catch on. The last car was taken off the road in 1978.