I don’t often just plug companies – especially when they aren’t paying me to do so! But, there is one company that I really like, use, and hope catches on. That is ZipCar. Basically they are a service in about ten large cities that let you rent a car by the hour. OK, I know, what is so cool about a car rental service?
Well first of all the fact that you can rent by the hour instead of the day. So say I am in Boston on a trip and I just want to go drive out to the suburbs for some reason. Yes, I could take a taxi, but I like to drive. This enables me to go where I want, when I want.
Second, once you sign up for a membership with them there isn’t any of that dealing with a rental agent, paperwork, and do they have a car. You simply go online to the city you need, enter the date and time you need the car, and put in the general location where you want to pick it up. There are cars strategically positioned all over the supported cities. When you find the one you want you just click the button to reserve it online. That’s it! The send you an RFID encoded membership card so that when you go to the car you reserved at the prescribed time you can just wave your membership card over the windshield and the car opens. The keys are already in it. It is that simple!
Finally, and this would be cool for a lot of people, if you live in one of these big cities and normally just use mass transit and such, you can buy a membership that gives you a certain number of hours per month. You could then use the car to run errands, get groceries, or go on dates. Whatever! It gives the non-car owner the benefits of car usage without the hassles. Just return it to its designated parking spot when you are done.
Anyway, I think it is a great time-share kind of way to use a car. I also like it because I get to try out all sorts of different cars in a real world environment. My wife and I used it last year in Boston to drive up the coast and then down to a New England Revolution soccer game. With mass transit or a taxi we would not have had the freedom to explore or the ability to go where we wanted. And with a standard rental car we would have had to plan ahead much more carefully. With this we just booked the car when we saw that we were going to have some time free. Oh, and no credit card required! Debit cards work just fine. Try that with most rental car companies.
Anyway, give them a check. A very interesting and useful concept, and I wish them much success.
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