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PSA Group chooses Washington, DC to start car sharing service

The PSA Group wants to gain a foothold here in the States. PSA executed the first part of this plan by launching its car sharing service, Free2Move, on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Free2Move launched in D.C. with a fleet of 600 Chevrolet Cruise sedans and Equinox crossover SUVs parked in all eight of the city's districts. Users pay a one-time $10 membership fee and have 24/7 access to available units.

All rentals are run through an app, which gives users codes to unlock the vehicles. Parking, gas, and insurance are included in the cost of each vehicle rental. Rental rates are based on how long a customer has a vehicle, on a per minute, per hour, or per day basis. The rate is the same from 0 to 500 miles, but after 500 miles customers are charged $.45 per mile instead of based on the length of time they have their vehicles. When done, users return the vehicles to any public parking spot.

Through the app, Free2Move customers also have access to mobility options from the likes of Bird, Capital Bikeshare, car2go, Jump, Lime, Skip, and Uber.

Free2Move is an established service that operates in 12 countries with more than 65,000 vehicles utilized by 1.5 million customers.

This move is a toe-in-the-water strategy for the PSA Group. Eventually, the company wants to bring its vehicles here once again.

"The launch of Free2Move Carsharing in Washington DC is our first step in the deployment of our 10 year plan for a North America entry, as part of our Push to Pass strategic plan," President and CEO of Group PSA North America, Larry Dominique said. "Our unique ‘service first’ launch strategy allows us to pragmatically re-enter this market thoughtfully and with a greater understanding of the retail marketplace and its consumers’ needs."

The PSA Groupowns Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall. At least one of those brands is destined to wind up on our streets in the not-too-distant future. Exactly which of those brands is coming is still up in the air, as the strategic questions for each brand and how it relates to the U.S. market are all being answered internally.

Opel appears to be a strong candidate, as more U.S. customers will be familiar with the products. PSA bought Opel from General Motors in 2017. At the time, many Opels were rebadged as Buicks in the U.S. That means some customers would instantly feel at home inside Opel vehicles.

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