Car Sharing Now Has One Million Members

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.

Zipcar Files IPO with Car Sharing Forecasted for $6 Billion

Zipcar Files IPO with Car Sharing Forecasted for $6 Billion

Zipcar Plug-in PriusBy 2016, car sharing will be a $6 billion annual business according to forecasts by Frost & Sullivan, with half the revenue in the United States. Zipcar’s IPO filing shows its market leadership with 400,000 members. Zipcar has already acquired Flexcar in the U.S. in 2007 and Streetcar in the U.K. in 2009.

An IPO would enable faster growth, other acquisitions, and debt repayment. The firm plans to expand into 100 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia, from its current 13 markets. The firm will also expand its fleet which already includes hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids. The SEC filing shows that organic growth was only moderate in 2009 and that the firm is not yet making profits.

“The future of transportation will be a blend of things like Zipcar, public transportation, and private car ownership.” – Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford

S-1 Filing on June 1, 2010, Reveals High Growth for Car Sharing

Zipcar operates the world’s leading car sharing network. Founded in 2000, Zipcar provides the freedom of “wheels when you want them” to members in major metropolitan areas and on university campuses. We provide over 400,000 members, also known as “Zipsters”, with self-service vehicles that are conveniently located in reserved parking spaces throughout the neighborhoods where they live and work. Our vehicles are available for use by the hour or by the day through our easy-to-use reservation system, which is available by phone, internet or wireless mobile devices. Once the vehicle is reserved, a Zipster simply unlocks the vehicle with his or her keyless entry card (called a “Zipcard”), and drives away. Our all-inclusive rates include gas and insurance so Zipsters can easily estimate the total cost of their trips. Zipsters choose the make, model, type and even the color of the Zipcar they want based on their specific needs and desires for each trip. Upon returning the Zipcar, the member locks the vehicle and walks away, free from the costs and hassles of car ownership. Zipcar provides its members a convenient, cost-effective and enjoyable alternative to car ownership.

We operate our membership-based business in 13 major metropolitan areas and on more than 150 college campuses in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. We target large, densely populated markets with high parking costs and strong public transportation systems. Based on these criteria, we initially focused our operations in three metropolitan areas: Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. These metropolitan areas have since developed into large-scale car sharing markets that continue to grow. We then applied our knowledge and experience to develop and grow additional markets, such as San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver and London as well as to university campuses. We further increased our geographic footprint to include Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh through a merger with Flexcar, Inc. in 2007. Our revenue has grown from $13.7 million in 2005 to $131.2 million in 2009. In April 2010, we acquired Streetcar Limited, a car sharing service in the United Kingdom. Our presence in London will also help support our expansion into other European markets. Streetcar’s revenue was $23.1 million in 2009.

We believe we have several significant advantages over our competitors. First, we offer our members the largest fleet of car sharing vehicles in nearly all the major markets in which we operate. Second, because our business is solely focused on car sharing, we are committed to ensuring the highest quality member experience. Third, we have a proprietary and scalable technology platform specifically designed for car sharing. Fourth, Zipcar is one of the most recognized brands in car sharing. Lastly, we have accumulated ten years of car sharing data, which we can leverage to drive loyalty and growth by continually enhancing our member experience.

Zipcar Solutions

The benefits we offer through our solutions are simple and compelling: 

  • A cost saving alternative to car ownership.
  • Convenient neighborhood access to a varied fleet of makes and models.
  • Freedom and flexibility beyond other alternatives such as taxis, public transportation and traditional car rental.
  • A smart, socially responsible and sustainable lifestyle.

According to recent studies by the Urban Land Institute, transportation in major metropolitan areas represents a significant cost burden. In regional studies performed in the Greater Boston, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco Bay areas, transportation costs represent between 17% and 20% of household income, which translates to $11,927 to $13,375 in average annual transportation costs. According to Frost & Sullivan, depending on total distance driven, a car sharing program can save up to 70% of the total transit costs for its members.

Individual Membership. We offer a solution for individuals seeking an alternative to the high cost of urban car ownership. In a member survey we conducted, the majority of respondents report selling a car or electing not to buy a car when they join Zipcar. As a result, we estimate that the percentage of Zipster household income spent on transportation is substantially less than the national average, making urban life more affordable.

Zipcar for Universities. We provide college students, faculty, staff and local residents living on or near campuses with access to Zipcars while helping university administrators maximize the use of limited on-campus parking and reduce campus congestion.

Zipcar for Business and Zipcar for Government. We help businesses and local governments save money, meet environmental sustainability goals and reduce parking requirements by providing their employees with access to Zipcars. We have also partnered with residential property managers and developers who provide their commercial and residential tenants with access to Zipcar memberships and Zipcars.

FastFleet. We offer a fleet management solution, called FastFleet, on a software-as-a-service, or SaaS, basis to organizations that manage their own fleets of vehicles. FastFleet enables these organizations to maximize efficiency and reduce the administrative costs of managing their own fleets by monitoring and improving per-vehicle utilization levels.

Market Forecast

Estimates of the car sharing market opportunity vary based on a variety of factors. According to Frost & Sullivan, revenue from car sharing programs in North America will increase to $3.3 billion in 2016, up from $253 million in 2009. Frost & Sullivan expects revenue from car sharing programs in Europe to increase to €2.6 billion in 2016, up from €220 million in 2009. We believe the Frost & Sullivan market forecasts are more likely achievable by 2020.

See the latest SEC filings for a complete discussion of Zipcar’s business, financials, and risk.


In addition to their traditional rental car businesses, Hertz, Enterprise and UHaul have launched separately branded car sharing operations. Connect by Hertz reports having more than 650 car sharing vehicles in select geographic areas such as New York, London and Paris. Enterprise has announced its WeCar brand, principally at universities and on some corporate campuses. UHaul has launched UCarShare in Portland, Oregon. All of these companies have long histories operating their core car rental businesses, but none of them has been specifically designed and built as a car sharing network. Therefore, they may have difficulty adapting to a member based service rather than a transaction based service.

Our car sharing competitors also include a growing number of for-profit and not-for-profit operators in certain metropolitan areas, such as Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Francisco and London. Most of these competitors operate in only one city, and many lack a critical mass of vehicles to provide a member experience competitive with that of Zipcar. As a result, they do not benefit from the same operational efficiencies and economies of scale and may be less likely to invest in infrastructure to the degree we believe necessary to remain competitive.

Clean Fleet Report about Zipcar Competition from Hertz and Enterprise

Clean Fleet Report about Daimler’s Entry into Car Sharing