Ten Reasons for drop in Car Ownership

Ten Reasons for drop in Car Ownership

Smartphone map app

U.S. Car Ownership Drops by 3.5 Million in 2009

In the United States, we embarrassingly have more vehicles than people with driver’s licenses. We have 246 million vehicles. AAA estimates that it costs $8,000 per year for each car owned, which creates a financial burden on cash-strapped Americans.

To the rescue are 10 positive trends that helped Americans scrap 14 million cars in 2009, while only buying 10.5 million new ones. The 2009 drop was the only large decline in the past 50 years shows the U.S. Department of Transportation.

1.    Urban Density. For the first time, most Americans live in urban areas where they need fewer cars, have better public transit, can share cars, and accomplish more trips with walking.

2.   Public Transit. Americans made 11 billion trips on U.S. transit in 2008, a 50-year record. Use dropped only slightly despite transit operators being forced to cut some routes and remove buses as the recession drove down local sales tax revenues needed for public transit.

3.    Smart Growth. Community and regional planners are making cities vibrant, with work, services, and play close at hand. Portland, Oregon, is a role model in creating urban density and great public transportation. California with SB375 is requiring regional plans that integrate development, transportation, and greenhouse gas reduction.

4.    One Car Households. The average suburban U.S. household has two vehicles. Some more. The average urban U.S. household has one vehicle. More American families and roommates are going from three cars to two cars to one car.

5.    Employer Commute and Flexwork Programs. Major employers are saving employees billions in travel costs. Employers sponsor ride sharing, last mile shuttles from transit, and guaranteed ride homes. Some employers have web sites and lunch-and-learns to help employees in the same zip codes match-up for car pooling. 57 million Americans work at home, at least part-time, with the help of flexwork programs. Employer programs have helped with reduced car ownership.

6.    Recession. The recession dispelled the myth that demand for cars and gasoline is price inelastic. When consumers are stretched, demand is elastic. About 20 percent of a U.S. carowner’s disposable income is spent on the car, maintenance, insurance, and fuel. Oil prices have more than doubled since their bottom in March 2009. The era of cheap gasoline is over as producers go to more expensive techniques such as deep oil drilling and strip mining Canada for tar sands.

7.    Cash for Clunkers removed 700,000 vehicles from the U.S. roads.

8.    Rail Connected. City transit is enhanced with regional commuter rail and with rail connected cities. Our latest World Series was dubbed the “Amtrak Series” as fans easily whisked between New York and Philadelphia. Rail connects the transit systems of cities into effective regional transportation. Fewer cars are needed. Yes, the United States lags behind Europe and Japan. Even China is implementing 5,000 miles of high speed rail. Given small hope, suburban rail and rail connected cities are on the rise in parts of the United States. APTA Center for High-Speed Rail

9.    Car Sharing. In 600 global cities, cars can be used by the hour.  Car sharing is popular with individuals and fleets. At many university and colleges, students with good grades can participate at age 18. Add transit and bicycling and many students live car free. Zipcar’s  350,000 members each take over 15 personally owned vehicles off the road. Members of Zipcar and car sharing programs report a 47% increase in public transit trips, a 10% increase in bicycling trips, and a 26% increase in walking trips. The success of car sharing has lead to success of bicycle sharing in Europe, giving millions last mile solutions between transit stations and employers and other city destinations.

10.    Intermodal Intelligence. Internet savvy people now use Google Maps, 511, car share apps, and smart phone GPS apps to compare car directions and time with public transit directions and time. With a few clicks on a social network a shared ride is arranged, or a shared car reserved. In the old millennium we got everywhere by solo driving in gridlock. In the new millennium we plan and use a mix of car driving, transit, and other modes to save time and money.

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 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.