April 15, a Monday, should have been sleepy this year for the Chicago team at Car2Go, a car-sharing service that automaker Daimler AG introduced more than a decade ago. Weekdays were generally slow, and Chicago’s streets were slushy the day after an unusual late-season winter storm. Who wants to deal with a rental car in the snow.
On that day, apparently, a lot of people did. There was a spike in rentals for Car2Go’s higher-end cars, Mercedes CLA sedans and GLA sport utility vehicles. And these rentals lasted much longer than Car2Go’s average 90-minute ride—in fact, many of the Benzes weren’t being returned at all. Instead, employees at Car2Go headquarters in Austin watched on a digital map as dozens of their vehicles congregated on a few blocks in West Chicago, in a neighborhood right outside the company’s coverage area.