Last week I got the chance to meet with some of the fabulous folks at Zipcar in Portland, OR and take a small tour of the Zipcar experience. You may have heard that Avis just bought Zipcar in a $500 million all-cash deal. That’s because Avis knows the traditional rental car industry is shifting – big time – and these new Evolutionary car share solutions like Zipcar represent the next generation of rental cars across the globe.
Zipcar is One Big Fleet that everyone shares. Cars are located in strategic areas all over the city and can be reserved via your smartphone and activated with a card you carry in your wallet. The service is customer-driven, immediate, pay-as-you-drive by the half hour increment, and includes everything you need – all drivers are automatically insured, and there is even a credit card on the visor for refilling the gas tank. When you are done with the car, just park it back where you found it. No more going to a rental agency, no more standing in lines, no more full day fees for a car you only drive for an hour, and best of all, you can look at the models near you and choose your car – a hybrid, a suburu, a Mercedes or BMW, a pickup or van, a mini – yep, they have it.
And people who drive Zipcars are cool too.
zip•ster (zĭp′ster) n. slang
One who uses a Zipcar. A gender neutral term for a person (or people: Zipsters) who believe in cost-effective transportation solutions that are good for the planet and easy on the wallet.
Last year Forbes published an article titled, “Customer Centric trumps Customer Service Every Time” explaining that the most successful companies of the future will be those that place customer centered services, processes and technology above high-touch customer service investments. This is perhaps the most innovative thing Zipcar has done for the auto rental industry – placed the power in its members’ hands – literally. If you own a smartphone, you can access a Zipcar without ever stepping into a retail office or meeting a Zipcar employee. By solving customer a key customer pain point – helping many who want to live a smaller “footprint” lifestyle but don’t think they will be able to let go of one or more of the family cars – Zipcar has been able to grow a loyal member base at record speed.
Most of all Zipcars are Transformational. Car share programs like Zipcar are changing the way we think about transportation, from the college students who no longer want to own a car to the city dwellers like me who have been able to downsize to just one car, people across the world are doing more with less, saving money and time, and helping the environment while we are at it. Zipsters report an 85% reduction in vehicle miles traveled, and for each shared vehicle added to the road, approximately 15-20 personally owned vehicles are removed from it. Carsharing members also report a 26% increase in walking, 47% increase in public transit and 10% increase in bicycle travel – making this not just a cost saving and green choice, but a healthy choice as well.
Now, that’s Evolutionary!