10 Best Car Sharing Programs in USA

America leads the world in car sharing with one million members – some 65% of the global market. For many people living in university towns and cities, transit, walking, bicycling, and carsharing meets their mobility needs. They do not own a car. For others, carsharing allows households to own only one car, instead of two or three.

For many Americans, their first chance to drive an electric car has been as a carsharing member where costs are as low as $7 per hour or even 35 cents per minute to drive the new electric cars from Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Smart, BMW and other automakers. Friends are dazzled as they silently drive across campus or across town on the day that a car is finally needed for a business meeting, buying at a big box store, or taking family on a tour.

The best program for you is a function of where you live and your mobility requirements. In some cities, Zipcar has more cars and SUVs in more convenient locations than anyone else. Business travelers may prefer the carsharing from Enterprise or Hertz with many tie-ins to their global rental car services. If you live in Chicago, IGOs alliance with CTA is a winner. Live in San Francisco, City CarShare’s array of electric cars is a winner. Live in San Diego, Austin, or Portland, and car2go gives you the ability to hop in a car in one part of the city and leave it in another. These 10 carsharing providers are helping a million Americans save time and money with innovative services.

Nissan LEAF Zipcar Houston

Zipcar

Zipcar has over 730,000 members who reserve and use 11,000 cars by the hour. Their hybrid cars have been popular with members in cities, universities, and fleets. 300 university and college programs are bases for expansion into individual and fleet membership in the surrounding city. Zipcar first included electric cars in 2003 with the Toyota RAV4 EV and has since added Chevrolet Volts and Honda Fit EVs. Zipcar in Houston added 25 Nissan LEAFs. The new EV fleet partnership of Zipcar and the City of Houston is called Houston Fleet Share.

Enterprise Car Share

Although Enterprise is known as a car rental giant, they have expanded into carsharing for individuals and fleets with a program rich in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars. Just as UPS has gone beyond delivery to offer large customers complex logistic services, Zipcar offers fleets a growing range of services. For example, the City of Houston better manages vehicle use by adding 50 existing city-owned fleet vehicles, including 25 Nissan LEAFs, with Zipcar’s FastFleet® proprietary fleet sharing technology. Enterprise recently acquired Mint Cars On-Demand, a car-sharing company serving more than 8,000 members in New York City and Boston. By year’s end, all of Enterprise’s car-sharing services throughout the country – including WeCar by Enterprise, PhillyCarShare and Mint – will be transitioned to the Enterprise Car Share brand name with over 60,000 members.

Hertz on Demand

Hertz leverages its huge presence as it expands with car sharing. Hertz has 8,500 locations in 150 countries. A growing number of hybrid and electric cars are offered in the Hertz Green Travel Collection. Its global car share program, Hertz on Demand, launched in December 2008 and has grown to more than 700 vehicles, 85,000 members and more than 500 locations worldwide, including corporate fleets, airports, hotels, utilities, government, and universities. The Hertz car share fleet includes many Nissan LEAFs, Chevrolet Volts, Smart Electric Drive, and Mitsubishi I.

car2go San Diego

Car2go

Car2go, owned by auto giant Daimler, is the world leader in one-way carsharing. Car2go has over 120,000 members globally in 16 cities. About half their members are in the United States and Canada. Last year, I drove one of car2go’s San Diego fleet of 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles from a transit depot to Balboa Park. I parked the car, signed-off and walked away. For car2go members, this trip would have cost about $3, and without the hassle of car rental or bus transfers. Car2go is a point-to-point car sharing service. You pay 35 cents a minute. If you use lots of minutes, you’re automatically lowered to $12.99 per hour. Keep the electric car overnight and pay $65.99 per day. No surprise fees are charged for being early or late, like some other car sharing services.

City CarShare

For eleven years, City CarShare has been a non-profit pioneer in car sharing and electric car sharing. As a non-profit with 15,000 members and 400 cars, City CarShare actively works to provide last-miles solutions for public transit. City CarShare promotes equity with CommunityShare and AccessMobile with wheelchair-accessible vehicles. City CarShare promotes sustainability by freeing members from owning cars and by introducing electric car sharing. City Car Share’s fleet includes 22 all-electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi I as well as plug-in hybrids Chevrolet Volt and a number of Toyota Prius modified by City CarShare to achieve over 40 miles of electric range. Electric cars for individuals will expand to at least 30. Through its eFleet Program, they will expand to 30 electric cars over the next 24 months, and achieve 50% penetration of alternative fuel vehicles by 2015. For each electric car deployed they have at least one dedicated charger; and in several cases, they have installed a second charging station available for public use. Electric bicycle sharing is being evaluated.

IGO

Solar and wind power are increasingly used to charge electric vehicles. IGO is an innovative car sharing non-profit in Chicago with 16 solar-powered electric vehicle-charging stations at several retail locations, transit stations, municipal lots, Illinois Institute of Technology, and suburbs including Evanston and Oak Park. Each solar charging station includes a canopy that covers four parking spaces and will be able to power two electric vehicles. Two spaces are reserved for IGO at each location. The others will be available to the public. People in Chicago can quickly travel on train, bus, and carsharing without hassling for money. With the Chicago Card Plus, on smart card is good for IGO, CTA trains and buses, and Pace. IGO is also testing a peer-to-peer carsharing model, individual car owners make their private cars available for a fee to others when they are not otherwise being used. Members who utilize the shared vehicles pay a fee by the hour or the day. IGO has 15,000 members sharing 300 cars.

BMW i3 Electric Car
DriveNow

German executives see an increased global interest in using cars as a service, with consumers and fleet managers paying by the minute, hour, and day. Daimler’s competitor, BMW, is now bringing its DriveNow car share service to the United States where it has 70 of its ActiveE electric cars being driven by car share members in San Francisco. DriveNow is big in major German cities where the program also includes the bike sharing that inspired one-way carsharing.

RelayRides

RelayRides’ peer-to-peer carsharing is part of an emerging trend of the sharing economy. RelayRides enables personal car sharing with web listings, $1 million liability insurance, and GM OnStar support. Investors in RelayRides include Google Ventures and GM Ventures. RelayRides is a leading example of peer-to-peer that is also embraced by other innovators including Wheelz, Getaround, Whipcar, IGO, non-profits, and even pilots among some auto service giants.

vRide

Ridesharing to work carries more people each day than transit. Sharing cars and rides is challenging among strangers. Trust is natural for people who work together. vRide makes it easy for individuals, employers, and transportation managers to facilitate carpooling, vanpooling, and park and ride. Similar organizations that help with facilitating, lunch-and-learns, vehicles, insurance, and ride matching include 511.org and Rideshare by Enterprise.

Surprise

A number of billion dollar giants, venture backed players, and innovators see a major opportunity in the transition for vehicle sales to transportation services. With Daimler and BMW now in the business, Toyota and others are evaluating whether to have their own carsharing program or strengthen partnerships. Because carsharing is capital intensive, the business is a natural for banking and financial service giants. Sharing, peer-to-peer, and fractional ownership have risk and liability management challenges. Who better to solve these than insurance giant entering the business? With information technology and social networking being integral to innovative mobility sharing, look for new strategic alliances and partnerships.

Bookmark this site and check back as we continue to update this list.

Carsharing =Innovative Services + Sharing + e-Mobility

Mayors, urban planners, and technology experts exchanged ideas and success models at the latest Meeting of the Minds. This article was shaped by experts.

At the meeting, I lunched with Zipcar President Mark Norman gave me a good idea of why members prefer the range of carsharing services to owning a car. A member can try an electric car one day, use a larger van to transport 6 people the next, then take an AWD to the mountains on the next. Zipcar’s potential is enormous. By succeeding at a university such as USC in Los Angeles, Zipcar has a base to expand in Southern California’s over 10 million car drivers and massive fleets. I expect Zipcar to soon have over one million members.

Just as UPS has gone beyond delivery to offer large customers complex logistic services, Zipcar offers fleets a growing range of services. For example, the City of Houston better manages vehicle use by adding 50 existing city-owned fleet vehicles, including 25 Nissan LEAFs, with Zipcar’s FastFleet® proprietary fleet sharing technology. By using Zipcar’s FastFleet technology, the City of Houston configures its fleet footprint in real time for optimal utilization; manages preventive maintenance, fueling, billing, and fleet distribution; and uses Zipcar’s analytics with data automatically captured during every trip. Zipcar’s FastFleet technology is used in Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago where DC officials estimate that they save approximately $1 million per year using FastFleet technology.

I talked with Rick Hutchinson, CEO City CarShare, at Meeting of the Minds. As a non-profit, City CarShare actively works to make urban mobility more effective as people combine walking, bicycling, transit, and carsharing. For 11 years, they have modeled best practices, which others learn from including Zipcar, Enterprise, and independents. City CarShare promotes equity with CommunityShare and AccessMobile. They promote sustainability by taking cars off the road and adding electric vehicles.

Susan Shaheen, Co-Director of Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC), has probably done more research about shared-use mobility than anyone. TSRC studies have determined that each carshare membership has resulted in at least 9 vehicles being sold, removed, or purchase-postponed. The biggest shift is one car households becoming car-free due to carsharing; 2 cars to one is another big segment. Her insights greatly helped with this article.

One million U.S. carsharing members will soon become 2 million as people save thousands per year owning one less car. University students, city dwellers, and fleets have new flexibility in getting the right vehicle when needed including roomy sedans, pickup trucks, and even electric cars. Just as we are transitioning from owning expensive computers and software to mobile use of cloud services, transportation has moved beyond just owning a car to a rich menu of transportation services.

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability. (c) Copyright John Addison. Permission to repost up to a 200 word summary if a link is included to the original article at Clean Fleet Report.

5 thoughts on “10 Best Car Sharing Programs in USA

  1. July 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    @energyadvice Always glad to engage with readers and let them engage with others. We can all learn in this space. -ed.

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