More and more business owners are using shared-car services instead of their own vehicles. In Washington D.C., Zipcar and Flexcar, two such services, have 530 shared cars, making them increasingly attractive to new kinds of customers, including universities and businesses, The Washington Post reports. Both Zipcar and Flexcar have received $20 million in private investment in the last year that they plan to use to expand.
The firms are aggressively cutting deals with cities for parking and marketing promotions. The companies charge an annual membership rate of $35 to $50, plus hourly fees of $7.25 to $9 to rent a car, which includes gas and insurance. Cars are reserved online or through a toll-free number, and each member is given a keyless entry card to access the car.
Many major cities have at least one company, but only the D.C. and San Francisco have two firms vying for customers. Citing internal and third-party studies, the companies say one shared car results in 15 to 20 fewer cars in D.C.
“There were definitely early adapters — people who originally thought of this as a really green service. From 1999 to 2001, people were like, you had to be a tree-hugger,” said Matt Malloy, vice president of sales and marketing, Zipcar. “Now we’re seeing this is becoming a true transportation category. The mainstream person is thinking about car-sharing as a transportation solution.”