Hi smartsters,

I’m Julia Knittel, and over the past year I have been working on a new project called “smart cities,” which tests out some new things for smart in various cities around the world.

First of all, what is the smart cities project? The Head of smart global, Dr. Annette Winkler, was inspired when she noticed that certain cities around the world (think of Paris and Rome, for example) had overwhelmingly adopted smart into their culture, to the extent that she often saw as many as 5-10 smarts parked on every street. Thinking there must be lessons to be learned from these cities that could be applied to other urban centers around the world, Dr. Winkler developed the smart cities project with the aim to nurture the smart culture and bring more smarts to the street via owner benefits and other ideas.

So we started with 10 pilot cities around the world.  Cities were chosen based on quantitative and qualitative info, e.g.  dense urban center where parking has traditionally been an issue, where mobility and sustainability is in the focus and where investment have been made into infrastructure for electric vehicles. We also looked for places that share the same smart progressive mindset of ecology, economy, and practicality.

In the United States, the pioneer cities selected to start this pilot in 2013, were Portland, OR and San Francisco, CA. I’ve been working with the local U.S. smart centers in these cities to develop great programs for owners and prospects alike, spread the word of smart and get more people exposed to smart. It’s been a great team effort so far!

Other smart cities around the world include:

  • Nanjing, China
  • Kunming, China
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Cologne, Germany
  • Munich, Germany
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Toronto, Canada

And now for some great examples of things we have done over the last year:

On-car advertising:  As our owners are our biggest advocates we had the idea to put advertising on their cars to promote their local smart center. With the help of a company called adverCar, we asked 50 local volunteers to put some fun decals on their car for 3 months and we paid them $100 per month for it. In return they generated some great buzz for us around town.

Discounted parking and designated parking spots: We’re working with local parking lot and garage owners to offer premium parking opportunities to smart owners, including discounts, free 2 hour parking or reserved spots at select garages. For the future, we also want to look into parking spots with electric charging stations.

Presence at local events: We think it’s important to still focus on awareness and bringing the car to the people, so we’re getting smart out to as many local events as possible. There is still a lot of curiosity for our vehicle from consumers who haven’t had the chance to sit in one or test drive one, particularly the electric drive. Once people actually get into a smart and see how roomy it is inside and how fun it is to drive, we see a definite shift in consideration. That shift leads to more smarts on the road, and that’s something we can all appreciate.

smart spots mobile app: We’ve released a smart-centric parking app in San Francisco that allows smart owners to search for spots that are naturally only 8–11 feet long making it perfect for a smart. The app also lets users share and upload smart-size parking spots that they see. That just means less time looking for parking, and more time doing whatever it is you’re doing. Check out the app and download it here for iphone or Android:

http://smart.cr/PAjWc7 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smart.smartspot 

I hope you’ve all enjoyed learning a little about this project.  We’re constantly developing more, so keep an eye out for what we have in store in the future. It has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful experience trying out new ideas and working with the diverse smart community.

Looking forward to talking again soon,

Julia Knittel
Managing Director, smart cities USA

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Tags: juliaknittel, smartcities, thescoop

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Comment by James Holmshaw on August 25, 2014 at 6:37pm
Hi Julie,

Would it be possible to contact me at james@citysameday.com

I'm looking at introducing 200 cars around the USA.

Kind regards

James
City Same Day
Comment by Jim VW on May 16, 2014 at 1:54am

You should stop by the Midwest Rally in Amana Iowa in June. 

Comment by desmarais on May 5, 2014 at 7:33pm
Love the idea of parkings less expensive for our Smart car and also the decals to promote our cars.
In Montreal, Quebec, Canada, there are some Smart use by Car2go. People become members and they can use Smart cars and may leave them on the street after. It is kind of a time-shared thing.
Comment by Lawrence Maturo on May 5, 2014 at 5:13pm

You forgot Austin, Texas.  The city has a program where you can rent a Smart for an hourly fee, insurance and gas included, and you can park it free in any street parking, as well as some parking reserved for Smart cars.  You can also leave it on any street,  Since they have GPS, the city knows where to find them.  For pick up, you can schedule a pickup, or you can just grab one you see on the street.  Since you get charged by the hour, if you take the keys with you, nobody can grab your car, while you are out shopping.

Comment by sUSAi Admin on May 5, 2014 at 3:31pm

Hi Mac - the act of vandalism that occurred in San Fransisco has not occurred elsewhere.

Comment by MacRat on May 2, 2014 at 3:41pm

Have any of the cities have similar issues to San Francisco where Smart Cars were being flipped over for fun?

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