The city, which has the third-largest municipal hybrid fleet in the country, partnered with Zipcar in an effort to improve efficiency, reduce costs and further reduce the environmental impacts of its fleet. Through the Houston Fleet Share program, 50 city-owned electric and hybrid vehicles, including 25 Nissan Leaf EVs, will be outfitted with Zipcar’s car sharing technology for use by city employees.
There are 300 drivers and 13 city departments enrolled in the program. As more cars are added to the shared motor pools, the number of drivers will be increased, the city said. Zipcar has a three-year contract with the city of Houston, with an option for an extension.
Overall the city has replaced about 800 vehicles, or 50 percent of its non-specialty light-duty fleet, with hybrid models.
Houston said the Zipcar program, which is funded by the State Energy Conservation Office’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Transportation Program, will allow the city to design and configure its fleet footprint in real time; manage preventive maintenance, fueling, billing, and fleet distribution; and analyze usage and diagnostic data, automatically captured during every trip.
Zipcar’s FastFleet technology has been adopted through similar initiatives in Washington, DC, Chicago and Boston. In 2009, Washington became the first city to use Zipcar technology in its fleet. City officials estimate they save about $1 million per year using the technology, Zipcar said.
Businesses such as the Intercontinental hotel in San Francisco also are using Zipcar’s car-sharing service.
Photo: City of Houston