Car Sharing Now Has One Million Members


By John Addison (5/25/12)


Car Sharing includes electric cars, point-to-point, smart apps

One million people around the world are members of a carsharing program offered by Zipcar, Enterprise, Hertz, innovative regional services, and programs that let one person make money sharing with others in the community. Car sharing saves money and hassles for families, individuals, fleets, and university students. Car sharing has enabled families to go from 3 cars to 2, households from 2 to 1, city dwellers and university students to live car-free.

Electric car owners can use car rental and car share to get hybrid cars that can take them beyond EV range, SUVs and trucks for big projects, and  the best AWD vehicles for snow and storms. For gasoline car owners, car share programs allow drivers to try an electric car for a few hours.

Smart apps including Google Maps, transit systems, and car sharing companies allow people to easily plan and navigate their week with a mix of transit, ride sharing, walking, bicycling, and using owned and shared cars. Car sharing has helped the U.S. become less dependent on oil; we now use 19 million barrels daily, down from 21 barrels 6 years ago.

The high-growth of car sharing enabled Zipcar to go public and attract 709,000 members. Zipcar’s success has attracted major investment by Enterprise, and Hertz. Seeing a big future that includes cars used as a service, auto giant Daimler has expanded the competition with Car2Go.

Zipcar’s 709,000 Members include Individuals, Fleets, Universities

Zipcar will be the first carsharing program to have one million members. Last count was 709,000, but the number grows daily as city dwellers and university students sign-up so that they can pay by the hour when transit, bicycling and walking won’t due. Don’t own a vehicle? Are you in a household fighting over one vehicle? Car sharing helps members with weekly groceries and other shopping, trips out of town, and an SUV with AWD when the snow falls.

Zipcar has grown organically, by merging with Flexcar, and buy selecting buying European providers as it targets global leadership. Zipcar had an IPO in 2011, generated over $240 million of revenue in 2011, and has stocked valued at around $400 million.

Electric cars provide another way for car sharing programs to attract members and increase revenue, as many members are eager to navigate a city in low-carbon silence. Ten years ago, Zipcar pioneered sharing Toyota RAV4 EV in Boston. Zipcar was early in a San Francisco pilot offering of Toyota Prii converted to be plug-in hybrid and now plans a pilot of the Honda Fit Electric.

Zipcar added 5 Chevrolet Volts to its Chicago fleet and plans to add up to 20 more electric vehicles in the city this year. Zipcar members in London for the Olympics can access one of 10 GM Vauxhaul Amperas, the European cousin of the Chevy Volt.

Enterprise Continues to Acquire Car Sharing Companies

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.

Auto rental giants Enterprise and Hertz are aggressively competing with Zipcar as all three expand globally.  Enterprise Holdings operates the flagship Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand as well as the National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.  Founded in 1957, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car network – with 5,500 branch offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population – has more than twice as many neighborhood locations as its nearest competitor. Enterprise has 1.2 million cars and trucks, 70,000 employees, and annual revenues over $14 billion.

Nissan LEAFEnterprise is now estimated to have over 100 electric cars in its rental and car sharing locations. When I had breakfast 18 months ago with Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, he told me of their aggressive plans to make 1,000 electric vehicles including 500 Nissan LEAFs available to members from Seattle to Nashville.  “We likewise remain committed to comprehensive, long-term local transportation planning,” stated Lee Broughton, head of corporate sustainability for Enterprise Holdings. “So strategic acquisitions like this underscore the sustainable nature of our longtime grassroots strategy from a social, environmental and economic perspective.”

Enterprise rents Chevrolet Volts in the middle of Southern California’s hot electric car market at places like the Mark Christopher Auto Center in Ontario, California. Daily people test-drive hundreds of Chevrolet, Cadillac, and other GM cars. Rentals at car dealerships are ideal for letting people drive EVs in real world conditions.

Enterprise also works with corporate, university, and government fleets. Google has 11 WeCar Prii that are converted to be plug-in hybrids. WeCar will offer more plug-in vehicles.

Hertz offers Mix of Rental and Car Share

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.

Hertz EV RentalIts 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, Mitsubishi I, and Smart Electric Drive.

Hertz offers relief for range anxiety. Hertz On Demand vehicles include in-car touch one button connection to a 24-hour Member Care Center, who guides drivers to an alternate drop off point or gets help with roadside assistance.

Hertz sees Universities as a good market for electric car sharing. It added the Nissan LEAF at Texas A&M. “Texas A&M University is excited to be one of the first universities in the country to have an electric vehicle in its car share fleet,” said Ron Steedly, Alternative Transportation Manager, Texas A&M University.

City Car Share flexible offerings

For eleven years, City Car Share has been a pioneer in car sharing and electric car sharing. This non-profit started with a dozen VW Beetles. Now, Zipcar, Enterprise, Hertz, and other independents learn from their success. City Car Share’s fleet includes about 20 all-electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi I as well as plug-in hybrids Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Plug-in.

Like other successful car share programs, members can use different vehicles for different needs. When a small car is needed for small city parking spaces, a Fiat 500 offers members a fun drive. For a big home project, a Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck can be used by the hour.  If friends are in town, a LEAF can be used to give them an electric ride from the airport. If great grandparents arrive, then a Dodge Grand Caravan wheel chair accessible minivan can be reserved.

I-Go Leads with Solar-Powered EV Stations

I-GO Car Sharing, Chicago’s innovative non-profit car sharing organization, has 16 solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations at several Jewel-Osco 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 will be reserved for I-GO at each location. The others will be available to the public. The canopies are expected to produce enough electricity to power 600,000 driving miles for plug-in vehicles.

A Nissan LEAFs and 2 Mitsubishi I are in use. I-Go will have a fleet of 36 all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Car2Go with 200 Smart Electric Drive Vehicles in San Diego

Last November, I drove new 2012 smart fortwo electric drive vehicle (smart ed) through the busy downtown streets of San Diego, America’s eighth largest city. I drive the electric car from near a transit depot to Balboa Park, a popular destination with its vast acres, museums, and famous San Diego zoo. We park the car, sign-off and walk away. If we were paying members, this trip would have cost us only $3 or $4. We got there in minutes 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.

This point-to-point car sharing service has proven itself in Austin, Texas, with hundreds of the gasoline sipping smart fortwo. San Diego is an excellent choice for the electric car sharing, since a fast network of Blink and other level 2 chargers are being installed in public areas. Utility SDG&E supplies the electricity using a generation mix that is 20 percent renewable. There are zero coal power plants in California. San Diego already has over 1,000 drivers of Nissan LEAFs, Chevrolet Volts, Tesla Roadsters and other electric cars. San Diego Car2Go Report.

Car2Go does not have a monopoly in one-way point-to-point car sharing. Hertz and Enterprise have been offering that for years in the rental programs. For example, you drop off your Hertz On Demand car at over 75 locations in greater New York City, Washington D.C., and Hoboken, NJ.

Car2Go is a for-profit subsidiary of auto giant Daimler whose most famous brand is Mercedes. Automakers have analyzed the future of urban mobility. Increasingly we will use cars as a service to meet part of our weekly transportation. Electric vehicles that are shared with point-to-point flexibility will allow us to go farther, faster, cleaner, and at lower cost.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Car Sharing Now Has One Million Members

  1. July 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Excellent article. I enjoyed spending some time reading through it. Car sharing isn’t such a bad idea. Besides, there’s even a private jet sharing.

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