BY MANDY DONOVAN // PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE QUINONES-MILLET
Have you ever scanned in to a Zipcar and wondered who drove the car right before you? And whether or not they were hot?
Introducing a new service from Zipcar. The folks who revolutionized city transportation are now reinventing the way city-dwellers date. The new app from Zipcar, ZHarmony, was launched last month to beta testers only. It lets you choose from a wide variety of vehicles from a Toyota Prius to BMW, and from thousands of singles to ride along with you.
Here’s how it works: Members sign in to their Zipcar accounts as usual. You select the time, location and vehicle of your choice. Then browse through profiles of Zipcar members who’ve opted in to be trip companions. You can customize your Ziptrip with a sunroof, a big trunk, or a chef with cool arm tattoos.
Zipcar members can log in and take their pick from over 30 makes and models, and thousands of trip companions.
We spoke with one ZHarmony beta tester, Emily Scanlon, about her experience. “As a single girl in the city, it’s hard to find a convenient way to get beyond the public transit system. It’s also hard to find a boyfriend.”
According to Zipcar’s Product Experience Director, Ted Chopin, “Living and working in the city, there’s just no time to find that someone special. With ZHarmony, tech-savvy urbanites who believe in the new sharing economy can find each other."
Once you’ve reserved your car and companion, just walk to the Zipcar, scan in. Voila! A friendship (or maybe even a romance) is born.
“We have thousands of cars across the world,” says Chopin, “and there’s at least that many single people. We just put two and two together."
“I reserved a 2014 Subaru Impreza and a 29-year old software analyst,” Emily effuses. “I just walked up to the car, scanned in with my Zipcard and Jake was sitting in the passenger seat with a list of dinner spots I’d been dying to check out. It was great! And so convenient!”
ZHarmony also helps reduce your carbon footprint by taking 1 car instead of 2. Hey, coupling up is good for the environment and your social life.
The best part is being able to choose the date that fits your trip. Going grocery shopping? Try a CR-V to hold all the bags and a vegan food blogger to offer healthy eating tips. If you need to move a sofa, think about a Toyota Tacoma and a 30-year old body builder. Got a long road trip? Choose a Honda Civic Insight for great gas mileage and a stand up comedian with a philosophy degree for great conversation.
“I’m really busy,” says Emily, “I don’t really have time for a boyfriend. But sometimes you just want someone to go to Costco with.”
Did anything go wrong? Emily: “No complaints, but I asked for a guy with blue eyes and I got hazel.” (We’ll work on that for next time.)
And how did Jake like the experience? “Emily’s a sweet girl. For our second date we’re gonna go to Ikea.”
Their beta test date was a success. Emily said she’s definitely reserving Jake again soon.
UPDATE: You probably realized half-way through that this was posted on April 1st, and was indeed an April Fool’s joke. But hey, we’re always coming up with new ideas. So, never say never.