Zipcar Launches “FastFleet” First Integrated Service for Public Sector Vehicle Fleets

Zipcar Launches “FastFleet” First Integrated Service for Public Sector Vehicle Fleets

FastFleet by Zipcar

FastFleet by Zipcar

(5/6/09) Washington D.C. first to optimize fleet programs allowing managers to eliminate cars, save money and reduce emissions

PRNewswire — Zipcar today announced FastFleet by Zipcar, a new service that enables government and other fleet managers to save money, reduce risk and promote sustainability. With FastFleet, for the first time, fleet operators may leverage the same technology that powers Zipcar’s consumer fleet. Washington, D.C., which is the first city in the country to adopt the system, estimates it has saved more than $300,000 during a four month pilot of FastFleet. As expansion plans are underway, the District of Columbia estimates it will save more than $1 million in the first 12 months.

“I believe that technology can be used to create efficiency and save taxpayer money,” said Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “FastFleet has allowed us to better optimize our fleet and we will continue to evaluate our existing fleet and look for additional cost saving opportunities.”

Nationally, approximately 4 million vehicles currently are deployed across thousands of fleets within local, state and federal governments. Typically, fleets are sized to meet peak demand, which means on a daily basis thousands of these cars and trucks sit idle. FastFleet’s smart, secure vehicle access enables fleet administrators to easily transition from inefficient, dedicated vehicles, to high efficiency shared vehicles with no reduction in availability for drivers. Additionally, FastFleet-equipped vehicles can be located in a distributed network of locations, instead of a centralized “depot”. Employees use an intuitive reservation system over the web, phone or mobile device, to select and reserve vehicles. A swipe of a wallet size access card unlocks the doors of a reserved vehicle, courtesy of an integrated card reader mounted under the windshield.

“At a time when governments across the country are being asked to do more with less, FastFleet makes it easy for them to quickly and easily reduce costs while still meeting the mobility needs of their employees,” said Scott Griffith, Zipcar’s chairman and CEO. “FastFleet by Zipcar is a new model of efficiency, cost savings and environmental benefit for fleet managers. This is a national roll-out of a new Zipcar line of business.”

“Sharing a fleet of small, new, fuel-efficient cars helps keep pollutants out of our air and water,” said George S. Hawkins, Director of the District Department of the Environment. “And, as Zipcar users already know, every quart of oil, set of tires and pair of wiper blades has an environmental cost. Using fewer vehicles will lower that cost.”

FastFleet mirrors Zipcar’s car-sharing model with one key difference: FastFleet does not supply the vehicles. Instead, client fleet administrators determine the numbers, types and locations of vehicles, which are then equipped with FastFleet’s in-vehicle technology, wirelessly linking them to a dedicated FastFleet server. While FastFleet makes reserving and driving a vehicle a snap for employees, the benefits to fleet managers are even more significant. FastFleet’s administration console enables unprecedented visibility and control over the vehicles in the fleet.

With FastFleet, fleet administrators may:

* Design and configure their fleet footprint in real time for optimal utilization
* Locate and track vehicles through a global positioning system
* Manage hundreds of critical activities including preventive maintenance, fueling, billing, and fleet distribution, just to name a few
* Analyze usage and diagnostic data, automatically captured during every trip
* Utilize FastFleet’s robust, experience-driven analytics to stay on top of trends, ahead of situations and in control of their fleet

Zipcar is the world’s leading car-sharing service with 275,000 members and 6,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout 26 North American states and provinces as well as in London, England. As a leader in urban transportation, Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to savvy city residents and businesses looking for an alternative to the high costs and hassles of owning a car in the city.

Car Sharing and Saving in a Tough Economy

Car Sharing and Saving in a Tough Economy

Buses Popular at Universities

Buses Popular at Universities

By John Addison (2/25/09)

American’s rise to tough challenges. This recession is hitting people hard. Transportation is 20 percent, or more, of many people’s expenses. American’s are finding smart ways to save. Public transportation use is at its highest in over 50 years. Commute program participation is breaking records. Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles in 2008 than the previous year.

A study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows that the average cost of owning and operating a passenger vehicle is 54.1 cents per mile. This is over $8,000 per year per vehicle, based on 15,000 miles of driving. Depreciation is part of that cost. Anyone who has bought a car for $20,000 and later sold it for $5,000 understands depreciation. Fuel, maintenance, tolls, parking, financing, and insurance add up. Most U.S. households have two vehicles, costing them over $16,000 per year.

The opportunity to save on transportation costs depends on many factors: living in the city or suburbs, household size, number of kids, type of work, and feasibility of car sharing.

A friend of mine is getting hit hard with vehicle costs and by being in an industry that is in a downward spiral. He and his wife are refinancing the home to stay above water. Their family of five includes four vehicles – primarily SUVs and a pick-up truck. When their youngest turns 16 this year, my friend is planning to get his son his own car. Vehicle number 5. At first glance, it looks like they have no other choice. Like most suburbs, frequent public transit is not in walking distance. Everyone is busy with work, school, sports, and community activity.

A closer look shows that this family could save over $10,000 per year. The three teenagers/young adults could share one or two vehicles. They live two-miles from a main street where public transit is reasonably frequent. All are great athletes who could bike to and from transit. Transit includes express buses during morning and evening commute hours that connect to a major downtown, other transit systems, rail, colleges, and more.

No one likes to deal with conflicts with teenagers and vehicle sharing is sure to create some conflict, yet communication and conflict resolution are important lessons for teenagers to learn. Family members might surprise you in creating sharing solutions that work, especially when bike and transit options are there. Taking the bus or biking to and from high school is not the end of the world. A young adult that insists on having their own vehicle can take the responsibility of working part time to pay for the vehicle, insurance, and fuel.

For years, Mark and Lisa Williams shared one vehicle. Both Mark and Lisa commuted during similar work hours from Elk Groove to Sacramento. They rode to work together. By riding together they saved up to an hour daily by using the HOV lane for vehicles with two or more passengers.

They also saved the $1,740 per year that would be necessary to pay for two Sacramento parking spaces instead of one. Mark and Lisa were not always able to commute together. When their jobs were miles apart, Lisa would take Mark to the nearby light rail that transported him to Sacramento. The Williams, including their son, never ceased to find irony as the three of them in one vehicle drove past the three vehicles parked in the driveway of a single neighbor.

When their teenage son approached driving age, the Williams bought a second vehicle, a Toyota Prius. Most of the time, the three rode together, leaving their SUV in the garage. When someone was going in an opposite direction, then the second vehicle is used. After seven months, they we’re using the SUV so little that they could not justify the cost of keeping it. They are back to a one-car family which works for the three of them. On rare occasions, the SUV is missed. Mark says, “It does require some compromises, like borrowing a vehicle when we want to use our kayaks, but it is well worth it, and will only become more so as gas prices slowly start climbing again.”

When I talk with people aged 14 to 30, I am surprised by how many do not want a car. My niece Lindsay Short was given the family’s 2001 Prius when she graduated high school with honors. She leaves the car with her parents and lives car free at the university. Like many universities, anything is faster going from class to class than trying to drive and search for the impossible parking space. On campus transit, bicycling, and walking work best. When cars are needed, car sharing services such as Zipcar, offer qualified students aged 18 and older, vehicles by the hour. What many students need is a monthly allowance that is a fraction of the cost of car ownership, so that they can pay for car sharing, public transportation, and trips home to see family. As an environmentalist, Lindsay wants to be true to her values.

You do not need to be in school to make a difference. For everyone, from those who live alone, to roommates, to families, transportation costs can be cut with flexwork, commute programs, public transit, and car sharing.

During his February 24 Address to Joint Session of Congress, President Obama stated, “The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil… That is our responsibility.”

Millions of Americans are responding to the current challenge of being financially secure; they are also addressing the need to provide their children with a future that is energy secure and climate secure. People are riding clean, riding together, and riding less.

Intelligent Charging Infrastructure for New Electric Vehicles

Intelligent Charging Infrastructure for New Electric Vehicles

Mayor Newsom Charges Plug-in Hybrid Prius

Mayor Newsom Charges Plug-in Hybrid Prius

By John Addison (2/19/09)

Momentum continues for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. BMW is already leasing its freeway speed MiniE. Sports car lovers navigate curving mountain roads in their Tesla Roadsters. Toyota is putting 500 plug-in Priuses into fleet tests this year. Next year, Nissan, Chrysler, BYD, and Ford plan to start taking consumer orders for electric vehicles from cars to vans. Toyota and GM will be fighting for plug-in hybrid market leadership. Over 100 EV players will be competing for your business. Electric Cars for 2010

Forty-thousand electric vehicles are now on the road in the United States; 99 percent max out at 25 miles per hour. These light-electric vehicles (LEV) are surprisingly popular in college towns, retirement communities, and in a variety of practical fleet applications from maintenance crews to parking meter attendants. Most of these electric vehicles are in California.

Will consumers buy or lease EVs in large numbers? Yes, if a few problems are overcome. Most will want freeway speed. Customers want an affordable vehicle. Many will want the types of vehicles planned by Toyota, Nissan, and GM – four door sedans and larger vehicles that can carry several people and lots of stuff. The vehicles will need greater range than today’s LEVs. Although the average household in the U.S. has two vehicles, with one rarely going over 40 miles in a day, many people will insist on EVs and PHEVs with much greater range. Consumers fear getting stuck.

“There are 247 million cars in the U.S., but only 53 million garages,” observes Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb Technologies.  Because they need less range, urban dwellers are most likely to benefit from owning an EV, but least likely to own a garage. One U.C. Davis study determined that 80 percent of plug-in car owners want to charge more than once a day. That means we only have 12 percent of the charging stations that we need.

Yesterday, the City of San Francisco demonstrated its installed Coulomb Smartlet Networked Charging Stations by charging a city-owned plug-in hybrid Prius.  Unveiling of the charging stations was done by Mayor Gavin Newsom, a former EV1 driver who has a Tesla Roadster on order (yes, he is buying it with his own money).

San Francisco is an ideal city to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Every year over 100 million rides are taken on the city’s fleet of electric trolley buses and BART rail/subway system. The city already has electric and plug-in vehicles in its fleet.  San Francisco is recognized as one of the greenest cities in the United States, if not the world. Citizens have been early adopters of electric vehicles, e-bikes, and plug-in hybrid conversions.

San Francisco, like most cities, needs a charging infrastructure. Only 16 percent of vehicles in SF have access to a garage with an electric outlet. (Clayton Cornell’s Post)  Most vehicles are parked on streets, apartment buildings, co-ops, and public garages without charging infrastructure. San Francisco does have at least 17 charging stations. Most are not publicly accessible. Others are older generation and not compatible with new vehicle standards.

“Our goal is to transform the Bay Area into the EV Capital of the United States, and a networked infrastructure is essential for the adoption of electric vehicles,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  “San Francisco is proud to be the first city to feature charging stations with technology to support our city’s clean electric fleet vehicles and car-share fleets.”

City CarShare, a successful non-profit pioneer in car sharing, is including in the demonstration progarm a Prius converted to be a plug-in by 3Prong Power. “City CarShare is pleased to participate in the Mayor’s Green Vehicle Showcase,” said Rick Hutchinson, CEO of City CarShare.

“Electric vehicles are the future of transportation and the Bay Area is the testing ground for the technology,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “We began using plug-in hybrids in the city’s fleet last year. Now, for the first time the public can plug-in to the next generation of cars through car sharing organizations and take them for a drive in San Francisco.”

Zipcar’s 250,000 members use car sharing to save $5,000 to $8,000 per year by reducing their need for a second vehicle or for any vehicles. Members also use Zipcar as part of their multi-modal transportation. For example, in a few years a Zipcar member in LA could take LA Metro to California’s new high-speed rail, then use a Zipcar plug-in hybrid for a few hours of cross-town meetings, and then return the car to take rail and transit home. All in the same day.

“Zipcar encourages sustainable lifestyles in several ways – fewer personally owned cars, less driving overall, and now the addition of these super efficient plug-in cars,” said Mark Norman, President of Zipcar.  “Our members strongly support the notion of adding next-generation clean cars, and this program is an important first step in exploring the potential.” The plug-in hybrid for the San Francisco Zipcar fleet is a Toyota Prius converted with the A123 HymotionTM L5 Plug-In Conversion Module to deliver 30 to 40 miles of electrically assisted driving on a single charge.

San Francisco is taking an important step forward by implementing a smart charging infrastructure that can be centrally managed and supported. The intelligent system can send text messages to drivers when their vehicle is charged, or that their hours of free parking are ending. The charging adheres to new SAE standards agreed upon by automakers and charging infrastructure providers. By making EVs a reality in a city with excellent transit and a future hub of high-speed rail, EVs will solve last-mile issues, and car sharing partnerships will allow long journeys to be zero-emission end-to-end.

Car Sharing Competition: Hertz and Enterprise Chase Zipcar

Car Sharing Competition: Hertz and Enterprise Chase Zipcar

Connect by Hertz offers Prius by the Hour

Connect by Hertz offers Prius by the Hour

By John Addison. New car sharing programs allow two or more people to need only one car. Each shared vehicle results in 6 to 23 cars not being owned. Once someone joins a car share program, they cut their vehicle miles traveled up to 80 percent. Introduced first in Europe, car sharing is now growing in the United States with over 200 car share programs operating in over 600 cities.

Zipcar is the leader in car sharing with over 260,000 members. Car sharing is popular with individuals who live car free in a city, with couples who share one car, with university students and staff, and with corporate fleet and travel managers.

Zipcar makes car sharing easy. After a simple enrollment a member is issued a Zipcard. Members reserve a car online or on the phone. At the appropriate hour, they go to their designated car, parked in one of many lots in the city. A Zipcard is used to enter the vehicle and drive until returned to the reserved parking space. A variety of vehicles are available in their program from hybrids to SUVs.

Hertz, as the largest international rental car company, has entered the car sharing market by launching the Connect by Hertz car sharing club, with neighborhood parking in London, New York City and Paris. Hertz plans to expand into additional cities, as well as universities, in 2009. As Hertz expands, it can leverage its established presence in 8,100 locations in 144 countries worldwide.

Membership in Connect by Hertz includes insurance, fuel, roadside assistance, maintenance and cleaning. Connect by Hertz members enjoy a paperless program where they can reserve, drive and return vehicles all on their own, via the internet or phone. “Connect by Hertz supports Hertz’s diversified business model by providing best-in-class transportation solutions across the spectrum of customer needs,” commented Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of The Hertz Corporation. “In addition to being environmentally friendly, Connect by Hertz cars can save members thousands of dollars a year in vehicle ownership costs and, by leveraging Hertz’s established infrastructure, we’re the first major car rental company to be able to offer members the first global car sharing program.”

The showcase car of the Connect by Hertz fleet in the United States is the Toyota Prius.  The fuel emissions of the London and Paris cars are significantly less than the voluntary target of a maximum 140 g/km CO2 output set by the EU.

To unlock and engage the Hertz vehicle, members simply swipe their membership card, the Connect card, over the car’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader. In car, a hands-free audio kit connects members to a Member Care Center representative should they have questions, need assistance or need to extend their rental.  The in-car technology also enables Connect by Hertz to ‘communicate’ with the vehicle enabling representatives to unlock, engage and locate vehicles.  The technologically savvy cars are also equipped with iPod connectivity and, in the US, NeverLost® in-car navigation systems and EZ Pass transponders.

Hertz may prove to be tough competition in market segments where it is already strong, such as corporate and fleet programs. Enterprise and Zipcar are starting to compete in these areas. Jeff Parell, senior vice president, Enterprise, emphasized, “Our WeCar program can be customized to fit the unique needs of any of our partners, including businesses, government agencies, and universities. So, it gives employees or students the flexibility to attend off-site business meetings, visit customers or vendors…”

Brendan Lange personally lives car free, but is enthusiastic about Zipcar for Business. Brendan’s firm coordinates major corporate events and meetings. Brendan’s job is to help clients make the events greener with the best selection of venues, food, beverage, and other choices. Through Zipcar the firm can use different types of vehicles by the hour to match varied needs: little cars for errands, small SUVs for hauling stuff, and upscale four-door sedans for taking clients on tours of potential event sites.

San Francisco claims to be the most successful city in car sharing. Although Hertz has not entered the S.F. car share market, Zipcar has strong competition from City CarShare, a nonprofit with a diverse fleet that includes cars that can fit in city parking spaces too small for many vehicles including Volkswagen Beetles, Mini Coopers, and Smart cars. City CarShare has more than 6,000 members in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. “Two-thirds of our members either sell a car or don’t buy a car,” said CEO Rick Hutchinson.

United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated, “I’m proud to be a long-time supporter of City CarShare and I applaud their members for saving more than 1 million gallons of gas over the last five years.”

Car sharing is destined to grow and attract growing competition.

Copyright © John Addison. Excerpts of this article will appear in his upcoming book – Save Gas, Save the Planet. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.