Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Update on Zipcar's Forthcoming iPhone App

Zipcar showed off a new iPhone app last month at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference that got me salivating (I'm a Zipcar member): it offers GPS help finding cars that are available, and can even honk the car's horn to help you locate it in a parking lot. See the video demo below...

Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith told me today that he has already been testing the beta version on his iPhone, with a few of the company's cars here in Boston. "We're finishing the app now, and then we have to do a complete new software download to our whole car network, so that iPhones will have the ability to honk the horn and unlock the car for you," Griffith said. The app will be free. Griffith estimates that it'll be available in about four weeks. Future versions of the Zipcar app, he added, might give Zipcar members discounts on music, or deals on iPhone navigation apps or other travel-related apps.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Revving up: Zipcar's car sharing rivals

Today's Globe column looks at Zipcar's new rivals: U-Haul, Hertz, and Enterprise.

Below, a chart comparing the current offerings from Hertz, U-Haul, and Zipcar. U-Haul says in the next few weeks it'll be expanding its U Car Share program to include more vehicles in more locations, but the basic parameters will remain the same.

ZipcarU-Haulā€™s U Car ShareHertz Hourly Rentals

Membership Fee
$25 application fee; $50 annual membership fee

$25 application fee; $50 annual membership fee


Hourly rental rate

$9 per hour for cars like the Toyota Matrix or Scion xB.

$10 per hour. Only car currently available is the PT Cruiser.

$12 per hour for compact sedan on weekdays; $15 Fri-Sun


Offers cars like BMWs and Volvos at premium rates.

Cars currently only rentable during hours when U-Haul offices are open.

Only one Boston location, at 30 Park Plaza.

(* All hourly rates include gas; Zipcar and U-Haul include
insurance, but Hertz charges extra.)

And here's the video, with Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Zipcar chases college students

From yesterday's Wall Street Journal: Zipcar goes to college. Darren Everson writes:

    Traditional rental-car companies largely avoid the student market because of concerns about liability. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the crash rate per mile driven for 16-19-year-olds is four times that of drivers 20 and older. Companies seek to mitigate risk through surcharges and higher minimum age requirements. Hertz's minimum age is 21 in all states except Michigan and New York, where it's 18; Hertz renters under the age of 25 are also subject to an age differential charge. Avis Budget has a minimum age of 21 in most locations and has a $110 per day surcharge in New York state for renters 18 to 24.

    The car-sharing companies, by contrast, are aiming to manage their risk by requiring that 18-to-20-year-old applicants have two years' driving experience and a clean record, and that they be a student at a participating school. There are no additional fees or deposits, although Flexcar also requires parental consent and a copy of the student's current auto-insurance policy showing the policy's limits. Flexcar requires that 18-20-year-olds have $300,000 of additional liability coverage. But otherwise, insurance works the same way for 18-year-old car sharers as it does for older ones: In an accident, the car-sharing company's insurance covers the cost except for a $500 deductible, which applies if the member is at fault.

    The car-sharing companies believe they can tap into the younger market safely because of their business model, which allows them to screen customers by their driving record, and because of the clientele. "The reason we see a difference is because we're a membership-driven system," says Scott Griffith, president and chief executive of Zipcar.

Zipcar's main competitor on campus is Flexcar.

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