There a few things I can’t wrap my mind around these days.
Take for example, Zipcar. The car sharing firm that supposedly offers the Millenial vibe, is actually run by the
old GM dumping ground for unpopular vehicles established rental company Avis.
That’s not a bad thing at all. Long story short, the opportunity for Zipcar to buy and manage vehicles at Avis procurement levels makes what was once a pipe dream, financially realistic. Avis gets to expand their fleet with minimal overhead costs (the two companies share the same vehicle fleet), and Zipcar gets to focus on expanding the idea of car sharing.
The problem for me is that the economics of car sharing under a corporate umbrella is still a bad idea for 99% of the folks out there.
Late last week Zipcar announced their ONE>WAY service, a point-to-point rental product and a clear challenge to Daimler’s successful Car2Go program.
20 internet connections
20 videos of The Lion King.
Oh, and 60+ vehicles on one street.
I recently delved deep into one of the more challenging ideas of the modern age: car sharing in suburbia. It’s an idea that many non-enthusiasts and city dwellers love. But is it a good idea for suburbanites and the rest of us?
According to a report from consulting firm AlixPartners, each and every car in the Zipcar or car2go car-sharing fleets means 32 lost vehicle sales. Based on a survey of 2,000 adults in 10 major cities who use car-sharing services, the report says that Americans would have bought an additional half million new or used cars and light trucks since 2006 if they did not have access to those services. That figure is expected to grow to 1.2 million by the end of the decade.
In cities where owning a car can be a pain (New York, Boston, Seattle), drivers are opting instead to share vehicles with other drivers, with companies such as ZipCar, Car2Go, RelayRides et al offering their services to help the public get around. All anyone needs beyond the basics is a subscription to the car-sharing service, a reservation, and a drop-off location when they are finished with their errands. Even big-name rental car companies like Enterprise and Hertz are jumping into the new business model for a test drive, Avis having gone the farthest by purchasing ZipCar in January of 2013.
However, the insurance offered by these peer-to-peer rental companies might not all that it’s cracked up to be, with severe consequences should anything remotely catastrophic occur.
My last Rental Review re-ignited one of TTAC’s “third rail” debates, that of compact pickups versus their full-size brethren. For the uninitiated, this topic is only slightly less contentious than discussing the merits of Roe v. Wade on a 1970′s college campus. User krhodes1 commented that when it comes to small trucks versus an equivalently priced full-sizer “Sometimes paying more for less is worth it.” I’m not entirely sure I agree with this sentiment across the board, but I know someone who does when it comes to minivans: my mother.
The compact pickup is an endangered species in North America, but the reasons for its demise depend on which camp you ask. Its proponents will tell you that CAFE, the chicken tax and marketing campaigns have all conspired to kill off small trucks. Detractors claim that the new generation of full-size trucks are just as fuel-efficient and affordable, while in many cases being more refined.
I really like pickups, but haven’t had a lot of seat time in them. Hell, it wasn’t that long ago that I mistakenly called the new Ram 1500 a “quarter ton” pickup, with some members of the B&B responding in a manner that made Kohmeni’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie look measured and calm. In keeping with our new mandate to expand TTAC’s rental review program, I decided to work out my Zipcar membership when I needed to haul two sets of R-Compound tires and wheels to the tire shop. And it just so happened that I ended up with what could actually be called a quarter-ton pickup.
I recently yelled at another driver. I know, I know: this is bad behavior. It’s even worse because I have a Range Rover, which makes you look like a total prick when you’re yelling at someone else on the road. Or, you could remove “when you’re yelling at someone else on the road” and that sentence would still be true.
Zipcar, the leading player in car sharing in North America, is about to be acquired by Avis Budget Group for $500 million in cash. The rental car firm will pay $12.25 per share, a whopping 49 percent premium relative to Zipcar’s closing price on December 31st.
Being asked “what car should I buy?” occurs on a weekly basis for me, but I’d rather field that question every day than listen to the recieved wisdom of a magazine racer just once more in my life. The most recent inquiry came from my Uncle Maurice, a kind and generous man who provided my brother and me with a near bottomless supply of Swiss Army knives when we were children.