December 8, 2014

Wheels When You Want Them, Where Cities Need Them

When Zipcar began car sharing in early 2000, it was not considered a viable transportation option by most people. The allure of the personally owned car as a fixture in the American Dream was too strong. Over the next 15 years, we worked to build awareness and scale our model, growing the membership to nearly one million members in six countries, served by more than 10,000 Zipcars in hundreds of cities, towns, and college campuses. Today, with a multitude of on-demand transportation options available with a few taps on your smartphone, more and more people are choosing to live car-free, or car-lite, helping to improve the quality of life in cities around the world. 

Historically, our business has been in downtown urban areas that are dense with people, buildings, and public transportation options. We’ve perfected our model there to be able to serve our members and make sure the business is financially sustainable. From the beginning, we have envisioned a future where car-sharing members outnumber car owners in major cities around the globe, and where most residents of these cities live within a five-minute walk of a self-service Zipcar. Tomorrow, we aim for even more cars in more places. We believe Zipcar will be an integral part of these vibrant communities within cities, making our affordable, convenient, and cost-saving alternative to car ownership available to as many people as possible.

City residents need cost-effective and convenient mobility solutions.City residents need cost-effective and convenient mobility solutions.

Today, a new study was released by Living Cities, an organization dedicated to working with city leaders to develop and execute upon new ideas that will improve the economic well-being in low-income areas. We agree with the Living Cities Shared Mobility Study in saying that the car sharing industry is at a point that it needs to look to expand the traditional footprint beyond the downtown areas into more neighborhoods. These include places where it might not be easy to hop on the subway or flag down a cab. Whether going to the grocery store in a Zipcar or using a bike sharing program to get from point A to point B, residents need cost-effective and convenient mobility solutions. Car sharing is an affordable alternative to owning a car, in addition to being more sustainable and saving people from many of the hassles of ownership.

In some of our markets, we have already begun to make investments in low-income areas, and we see the importance of dedicating even more time and resources to growing our business from the “inside out” to include more neighborhoods within our Zipcar cities. We know that it’s important to grow in the same way we always have – by working collaboratively with city governments, local leaders, planners and researchers, civic and community groups, and our members. Working in partnership is not just good for our business; it’s good for our cities. 

We understand that our brand tagline – “wheels when you want them” – knows no boundaries. As a result of the Avis Budget Group acquisition, Zipcar is increasingly poised for continued growth and leadership, and part of that is to bring more Zip to more people – not only in new markets, but in existing ones. We will continue to shape the future of mobility by working to break down the barriers that have prevented car sharing from serving a broader constituency to extend our models of service, our integration with other transportation options, and our commitment to making cities great places to live and work.