February 8, 2013

IS CAR-SHARING IN YOUR FUTURE?

Liana Hill signed up for a corporate Zipcar account in December. “At first we signed up mainly for the parking, because it’s so difficult to park in Back Bay,” says the store manager for the Ibex Outerwear company’s location in Boston’s Back Bay. The car subscription service is ideal for her store’s particular needs: The business doesn’t use a car regularly enough to own one, and employees mainly commute via public transportation.

Ms. Hill and her staff use the car service for quick, irregular day trips – “Making a Home Depot run for soil and plants, or when we need to go to a meeting at corporate headquarters in White River Junction [in Vermont].” Reimbursement for gas and parking from Ibex when using their own cars for such errands “far exceeds the cost of using Zipcar,” she says.

About 750,000 Zipcar members have similar motivations in their personal use. These are people who don’t need a car on a regular basis, but could use one for the occasional errand – a trip to Target, for instance, or helping a friend move. They pay an annual membership fee plus an hourly use rate for access to cars parked in various locations in each city. Gas, insurance, and tolls are included. All they have to do is share the service with other users.

A useful service.