zipcars parked in spots
October 2, 2019

Dude, Where’s My Car?

Ever wonder what happens when a Zipcar you’ve enjoyed a few rides with seems to disappear? Don’t worry, it hasn’t ghosted you. Every month, the Zipcar team assesses car types and neighborhood locations to help keep your vehicles in tip-top shape. 

Whether a car is swapped for an upgrade, seasonal migration, or changed to meet local needs, every move is made with members in mind. 

“We are constantly adapting to the changing needs of our members,” Senior Manager, Locations Jon Tyburski said. “We want to ensure that we have the right number of vehicles, the right type of vehicles and the right location mix. We assess that monthly.” 

Let Us Upgrade You 

When you own a vehicle, driving a spiffy new car is an experience you’ll have only once every few years or more. Zipcar members, however, can enjoy that new car smell far more often, as brand new vehicles join our fleet frequently. 

Cars cycle out to allow newer cars to move in so that members can enjoy all the latest and greatest. These new cars often have the added benefit of state-of-the-art safety features, like backup cameras, lane departure signals and pedestrian activity sensors. There are more than 60 car makes and models in the Zipcar family, which adds up to plenty of upgrades to keep up with.  

“When vehicles have the most advanced updates, they may help drivers become safer and prevent accidents. We upgrade the cars to both keep our drivers and everyone else on the road safe,” Regional General Manager Smokshane West said.  

Swapping new cars into our roster takes a lot of behind the scenes and technology updates to keep things running smoothly. Cars must have our proprietary equipment installed so that they can join the network and communicate with users’ Zipcards and mobile apps.   

As technology has improved, so has our ability to understand and anticipate Zipsters’ wants and needs. Car usage, trip lengths, bookings and searches are all examined to make sure that both the cars themselves and the locations are serving members well.  


Right Car, Right Place 

“It’s not just where the car was used, but where were people looking for this kind of car, what type of cars and trips were people looking for – whether we had it there or not,” Jon said.  

Zipcar’s locations team needs to consider both existing and new members. We look at what people are searching for on the website and note changes to the local member base. A car may be used moderately, but that doesn’t mean we should settle. Is there a car that could provide even better service to the local member base? 

“The foundation where we start is really about trying to match a vehicle to member demand and member activity. New members don’t have the precedent of driving history. We can’t look at a new member and say ‘Well, what did you do before?’,” Jon said. “We look at the ever-changing mix of members - new members coming, and members moving away. How do we actually meet the demand as it is today?” 

Today, we’re able to study much smaller populations of members so that local fleets are much more targeted to preferences. This can translate to local changes of both cars and locations.  

“We’re much more cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of options out there,” Jon said. “We want to make sure we’re competitive and convenient for the trips that are needed and that’s why we focus data onto much smaller areas.” 

Throughout our two decades, we have partnered with host cities to ensure that cars are improving urban life for all citizens, not just Zipsters. To ensure that Zipcars are helping to improve safety on and off the road, we work with local government and transportation departments, and listen to the needs and preferences of local communities.  


Mission: Mobility 

For the past 20 years, our goal has remained the same: to enable simple and responsible urban living. We work with our cities and our members to create a car sharing community that works effectively for everyone to have access to the kind of wheels they want, when and where they need them. For every Zipcar on the road, in cities coast to coast, as many as 13 personally-owned cars are taken off the road. This helps improve city life for all, cutting down congestion and pollution. 

So, if your local car changes, enjoy trying the new one in its spot. Whether the new car is an updated model or an entirely different vehicle selected to meet local demand, know that we had you and your neighborhood’s fellow Zipsters in mind when we made the switch. And, you know what they say, variety is the spice of life.