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Service gives drivers on-demand cars

Posted Monday, Sep 14, 2009, 11:19 am in Employee News

New companies around the country are offering consumers the chance to borrow cars as they need them, a story in the Detroit Free Press says. For $125 a year and less than $10 an hour, customers can borrow cars from Zipcar, a company leading a car-sharing phenomenon across the United States.

Demand for short-term wheels is growing quickly in these frugal times, and car sharing lets drivers save cash while helping the environment, the story reported.

Zipcar, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., is generating about $130 million in annual sales and growing at 30% a year. Now Hertz, Enterprise and U-Haul want in on the action, and various nonprofit competitors have built loyal customer bases in the Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia areas, the Free Press says.

Zipcar payments cover gas and insurance, so members must have unblemished driving records. Drivers may not smoke in the cars, use them to taxi others or deliver pizzas or other products. They also must return them to the designated parking spot as clean as they found them, according to the story.

To use the cars, drivers swipe a card across a bar code reader in the front windshield, which opens the driver’s door. The car comes equipped with a gas credit card in the glove compartment. Members must leave at least a quarter-tank. (The Detroit Free Press)
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