Flexcar, Zipcar to Merge

This hit my mailbox this morning:

We’re thrilled today to announce some big news: Flexcar will be merging with Zipcar, another U.S.-based car-sharing company.

This is good news for you for several reasons, including: more markets, more vehicles, and enhanced technology. Your membership will soon enable you to reserve shared
cars in New York, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver—even London! We’ll be incorporating
Zipcar’s award-winning technology, which will make it even easier to find, reserve, and
unlock cars.

There’s more detail and links to Q&A here.

Given some of the Q&A, it sounds more like Flexcar is being acquired, or at least that in the end we’ll all be using the ZipCar technology, branding and web site :-)

9 responses to “Flexcar, Zipcar to Merge”

  1. Ido think the day will come when it is nearly as economical to rent a car as to own one, in other words the expense about the same to rent on a daily basis anywhere, without all the expenses of maintenance, insurance etc.

  2. What is the environmental benefit of renting cars? Is it that renting a car is less convenient than having it right there in your driveway, so you’re more likely to use another mode of transportation?

  3. environmental benefits?

    there are some car parts that go bad not based on wear but on time. so by sharing, you potentially use fewer resources in terms of materials. also, yes, by making just a tad harder to access your car, you tend to consolidate trips- sum = fewer trips.

    also, for a lot of people, using flexcar/zipcar is WAY cheaper then car ownership. i have a car now as a luxury item. i, nor my wife, commute with it. we use it probably once a weekday. and then on weekends only.

    we relied on flexcar and thrifty for years for our auto needs. and yes. i have the bills. it was WAY cheaper.

  4. I think the environmental benefit of car sharing can be described like this:

    A person who is on the borderline of deciding whether or not to have a car in their household (or to reduce the total number of cars in their household) will have a much easier time if they have the confidence that when a car or truck is needed, it will be available to them right there in the neighborhood, without having to go to a distant car rental counter and fill out a bunch of paperwork.

    The benefit is (depending on the extent to which this is true) that once the household actually reduces the number of cars, reliance on the shared auto will actually prove to be significantly less than reliance on the previously-owned auto.

    Furthermore, it can be the case that rather than say 10 households having 10+ cars between them, these same 10 households can get by with 2 or 3 shared cars. These shared cars will be replaced more frequently due to higher use-per-car, but will still consume fewer net resources for construction per person-mile than the owned cars. Combined with regular, tracked maintenance by the car sharing company (thereby keeping the remaining cars in better average operating condition than the 10 cars) has a benefit of reduced fuel consumption and emissions over the life of the cars.

    – Bob R.

  5. “there are some car parts that go bad not based on wear but on time.”

    One of those big things is parking spaces: If there wasn’t flexcar in places like the Pearl, people would have to own cars individually. At best, it would use a lot of concrete for parking garages, (9% of green house gases are related to concrete production,) but would most likely include a lot of surface spaces too, which would when it rained, would cause runoff related problems… That is less of an issue for the suburbs, because there is more than enough street/driveway parking space already, and less cars isn’t going to change that any time soon.

    The other thing is that not all the flexcars are the same. When I owned a car, I owned a pickup truck because sometimes I needed to move something bigger than would fit in a sedan. Of course, pickup trucks get worse gas mileage than sedans, but since I really couldn’t justify 2 cars, I’d end up using the pickup truck for all trips, (including the ones where I wasn’t moving anything besides one person.) With flexcar, you can use a sedan when you need a sedan, and still have access to the pickup truck, (or whatever,) when you need it, without having to drive a pickup truck around every day…

  6. More environmental benefits:

    1) Fewer cars
    I would venture that Bob R. is aiming low with the 2-3 cars per 10 member-households ratio, but even if you run with that, the 7-8 cars not owned is 7-8 cars (and corresponding parts) not made/transported, the process for which has its own environmental implications with regard to steel, aluminum, plastic and energy.

    2) Fewer parking spaces
    7-8 cars not owned also equals parking spaces not needed. Particularly in neighborhoods with mostly street or other surface parking (pkg. lots or driveways), this means less impervious surface collecting road juice that ends up in the river. The less parking we need, the less developers will build/pave, which means that land can be used for open space, or more housing (saving the need to sprawl out onto new M37 claim-land).

    3) Aids Economic Decision-Making, which ends up disencentivising unneccessary trips.
    With car-sharing, you evaluate every potential car trip with (does this trip really warrant nine bucks? or would I rather save the 9 bucks and walk?). Conversely, a car owner who opts to walk gets less value from her car than the neighbor who drives everywhere, creating an incentive to use miles already purchased, since the majority of most car costs are up-front, and others like gas and maintenance are based on a term that makes the benefits of individual trip decisions difficult. Almost no costs of car ownership are by the hour/mile as is the case with car-sharing.

  7. With car-sharing, you evaluate every potential car trip with (does this trip really warrant nine bucks? or would I rather save the 9 bucks and walk?).

    That’s been my experience as a Flexcar member! Making the cost of a trip incremental really makes you think about the value of the trip. At a minimum, it causes you to trip-chain all your errands that you need a car for.

  8. Does this mean we can finally get Point A-to-B rentals? Nothing sucks more than needing a car for a three-mile drive to a five hour event.

  9. “What is the environmental benefit of renting cars?”

    Try: we don’t need to build as many cars if people rent them. When a car sits in a driveway, its being wasted. Someone else could be driving it.

    Cars = lots of plastics, metals, and embodied energy. They are very costly to produce, contributing quite a lot to greenhouse gases and materials extraction (at least they are mostly recycled). The fewer we make, the better.

    Not to mention the parking issue – fewer cars – or more in use – means less parking a city needs.

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