Image From ..zipcar.com
One day you might be one of those folks who have a need for a car, on occasion, but, want to avoid the cost and hassle of car ownership, maintenance and insurance, etc. Maybe you're on a fixed income and budget tightening means you're looking to reduce your expenses.
Or, you might be a student who needs to get around, but doesn't want any obligations other than the one house plant you watered in your dorm. (And even that is suffering.)
Maybe you're living in a city like San Francisco, New York or Boston where the cost of car ownership and parking is beyond ridiculous.
If you know people like this, then they should probably check out Zipcar. It just might be a practical option whose time has arrived.
Zipcar is a car-sharing club &amp; service, that goes beyond the traditional car rental. Based in Cambridge, MA, the company has signed up nearly 700,000 people who need to have easy access to a reliable vehicle but don't want to own one.
Jerry Hirsch of the Los Angeles Times reports that Zipcar generates about $63 a day from each of it's 10,000 vehicles. Zipcar renters need to be at least 18. Gas and insurance are included in the hourly rate. Zipcar charges an application fee and an annual membership charge. Members receive up to $80 in driving credit when they refer a friend.
Consumers who want to test out the service or just want access to car sharing for a few months can do so without an annual commitment. As with all Zipcar driving plans, reservations include gas, reserved parking spots, insurance, roadside assistance and up to 180 miles of driving per day.
In the Times interview Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith said the cars are popular on college campuses and its largest markets, in terms of members and fleet vehicles, are New York and London. "We do best where there are high parking rates, good public transit and where people live in the city."
Where can you get a Zipcar?
Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Washington, DC.
In Canada too, you'll find them in Toronto and Vancouver. In the U.K. they're in Bristol, Cambridge, London, Oxford and Maidstone.
In the urban markets where Zipcar currently operates, about 10 million people can walk to a car in less than 10 minutes. Griffith says "That means there are over 9 million people who have not yet signed up but can still walk to Zipcars."
Getting them to join is the most efficient way for the company to grow.
Zipcar users overwhelmingly say they like the freedom and flexibility. Testimonials found at Yelp.com confirm this.
The brand, Griffith says, wants to promote simple, responsible urban living. Among the 'Millenial' consumers that represent his customer base, car ownership is not important to them. "If they had to pick between a smart phone or a car, they'd pick the phone."
Griffith says the car rental companies are focused on transactions, not consumer relationships. "We focus on lifetime value, years of relationship. Our real competition is car ownership.
Technology, he adds creates hurdles and opportunities. "Half of our activity at Zipcar runs through smartphones. The Android and the iPhone. You can now unlock the car and honk the horn of your car with the app to figure out which of the five Zipcars is yours."