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FoundedJanuary 2000 (2000-01)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founder(s)Antje Danielson
Robin Chase
HeadquartersCambridge, Massachusetts
Area served14 major metro markets in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom
Key peopleScott Griffith (Chairman) & (CEO)
Employees474 full-time (as of April 2011)[1]
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FoundedJanuary 2000 (2000-01)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founder(s)Antje Danielson
Robin Chase
HeadquartersCambridge, Massachusetts
Area served14 major metro markets in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom
Key peopleScott Griffith (Chairman) & (CEO)
Employees474 full-time (as of April 2011)[1]

Zipcar is an American membership-based carsharing company providing automobile reservations to its members, billable by the hour or day. Zipcar was founded in 2000 by Cambridge, Massachusetts residents Antje Danielson and Robin Chase, and is now led by Scott Griffith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

As of September 2012, the company has 730,000 members and offers 11,000 vehicles throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria, making Zipcar the world's leading carsharing network.[2]

Members can reserve Zipcars online or by phone at anytime, immediately or up to a year in advance. Zipcar members have automated access to Zipcars using an access card which works with the car's technology to unlock the door, where the keys are already located inside. Zipcar also offers an iPhone or Android application, that allows members to honk the horn to locate a Zipcar and unlock the doors.[3] Zipcar charges a one-time application fee, an annual fee, and a reservation charge. Gas, parking, insurance, and maintenance are included in the price.[4]

Recent years have seen the creation of many Zipcar competitors. Traditional car rental companies have replicated Zipcar's short-term car rentals with programs including Hertz on Demand, Enterprise's WeCar, UHaul's U Car Share, Avis On Location, and Daimler's Car2Go. [5] Regional competitors exist, such as City CarShare in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mint in New York and Boston, I-GO in Chicago, among others. [6] Peer-to-peer car sharing startups include RelayRides and Getaround.

In the fall of 2007, Zipcar merged with Seattle-based rival Flexcar to create a nation-wide car sharing company.[7] The company's IPO was in April 2011, and the common stock trades on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "ZIP."[8]



The Honda Civic Hybrid is part of Zipcar's clean fuel vehicle fleet.

Members are able to view vehicle availability and reserve a self-service car via the internet, iPhone and Android applications, or telephone, in increments as short as one hour and pay only for time they reserve. Zipcar vehicles report their positions to a control center using in-car technology.[9] In the U.S., each reservation entitles the members up to 180 miles (290 km) for each 24 hour period,[10] while Canadian members receive up to 200 kilometers with each reservation for the first 24 hours, and 15 kilometers per each additional hour beyond the initial 24.[11] Individual members can sign up for one of two different plans, the "Occasional Driving Plan" and the "Extra Value Plan".[10]

Members are given an access card containing a wireless chip that will open the vehicle they have reserved only at the time they have reserved it.[9] The reservation includes driver's insurance, a gas card for the car, reimbursements for fuel obtained at gas stations that do not accept the included gas card, and up to $15 in reimbursements for typical car maintenance items like car washes and window wiper fluid refills. A member can reserve and use a Zipcar in any Zipcar city.


Zipcar was sued in 2009 and again in 2011 [12] by customers upset with Zipcar for allegedly charging customers excessive or hidden fees. The suit cited several hidden charges, including a charge to talk to a customer service representative even when customers call to report a problem that can’t be handled through the website or automated phone system, additional fees on top of the cost of a parking ticket even if the tickets were overturned in court, late fees start at $50, a fee to retrieve items left in cars, and an inactivity fee. [13] According to the complaint, many customers may not even be aware of the charges because Zipcar does not send monthly statements. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2010 after US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton found that every penalty except an inactive-user charge is legal. [14]

University, organization and business partnerships

Zipcar launched its Zipcar for Business program in early 2004 to provide companies with discounts on Monday-Friday driving. Since the launch of the program, Zipcar has signed 10,000 small, medium, and large sized businesses, as companies are increasingly adopting car sharing as a cost-saving alternative for employee travel.[15]

Zipcar fleet

The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is available to Zipcar members in Boston.

Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of vehicles, including BMWs, Volvos, MINI Coopers, Prius Hybrids, pickup trucks and more. Each vehicle has a home location: a reserved parking space located on a street, driveway or neighborhood parking lot in the member's area, to which it must be returned at the end of the reservation. The locations of all Zipcars and models available at those locations are available at the Zipcar website.

Embedded technologies

Zipcars have RFID transponders located on the windshield that communicates with the card to lock and unlock the doors of the vehicle. Each vehicle records hours of usage and mileage, which is uploaded to a central computer via a wireless data link. The location of the vehicles is not tracked during a reservation for privacy reasons but is trackable and all cars are equipped with a "kill" function that allows the company to prevent the car from starting in the event of theft (it does not cause the car to turn off, for safety reasons).[citation needed] Zipcar also offers the embedded Information Technologies it has installed in its fleet as a fleet optimization service through its FastFleet service.

Clean fuel vehicles

Among its fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles, and through an agreement between Honda and Zipcar, the program offers clean fuel and low-emission vehicles that include the Insight hybrid, Honda Civic GX powered by compressed natural gas, Civic Hybrid, Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe, Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell-electric vehicle, and Honda Fit EV all-electric car.[2]

Plug-in vehicles

Zipcar's converted plug-in Toyota Prius recharging at a reserved public charging station in front of San Francisco City Hall .

In February 2009 a pilot project was launched to promote plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in Zipcar's fleet in the San Francisco Bay Area. This pilot was a partnership between Zipcar and the City of San Francisco. The vehicle showcased during the announcement was a Toyota Prius converted for plug-in capabilities with range of up to 30 to 40 miles (48 to 64 km) of electrically assisted driving on a single charge.[16][17] The program was aimed to provide Zipcar members with a convenient and cost-effective way to test drive PHEVs.[17] The city installed a plug-in charging stations in front of San Francisco City Hall deployed for used by the existing fleet of municipal plug-in vehicles and also for plug-in hybrids available through Zipcar and City CarShare.[18]

As part of the demonstration program carried out by Toyota Motor Corporation since 2009, the carmaker delivered eight pre-production Prius Plug-in Hybrids to Zipcar in January 2011. Three markets were selected to make the plug-in hybrids available to its members, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts with three cars, another three in San Francisco, California, and two in Portland, Oregon. Similarly to many hybrids in Zipcar’s fleet, the Prius PHEVs could only be reserved by the hour at an hourly rate of US$7.[19]

Since May 2012, and for six months, the Vauxhall Ampera plug-in hybrid is available through Zipcar in London, Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford.[20]


A zipcar T-shirt

Zipcar was co-founded by Antje Danielson and Robin Chase based on existing German and Swiss companies (see also Mobility CarSharing) in January 2000. In June 2000, the first Zipcars hit the road around Boston, MA. In September 2001, the Washington, D.C. office opened. In February 2002, New York City office opened In February 2003, Scott Griffith replaced Robin Chase as CEO. In April 2005, Zipcar partnered with XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQXMSR) to provide satellite radio in all Zipcars. In July 2005, Zipcar secured $10 million in funding led by Benchmark Capital. In August 2005, San Francisco office opened. In May 2006, Toronto office opened. In May 2006, General Electric's Commercial Finance Fleet Services (NYSEGE) gave Zipcar $20 million in lease line financing. In September 2006, Toronto market was named fastest growing new market in company history. In November 2006, London office opened. In April 2007, Vancouver office opened. In May 2007, XM Satellite Radio ended partnership with Zipcar and their radios are no longer available in Zipcars.[21] In October 2007, Zipcar and Flexcar executives announce a merger of the two companies, with the Zipcar brand and headquarters replacing that of Flexcar.[22]

On January 23, 2008, the merged Zipcar/Flexcar canceled service for the Southern California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego without providing advanced notice to customers in those areas. Southern California college operations were left intact.[23] On July 11, 2008, Zipcar announced it doubled membership in past year, including the Flexcar members it acquired, and now had 225,000 members.[24] On August 28, 2008, Rice University announced the introduction into the program in their goal of achieving as low of a carbon footprint as possible while providing additional transportation options for employees that carpool.[25] On April 8, 2009, a partnership with Zimride was announced to allow Zipcar members to automatically post rides for carpooling on Zimride.[26] On June 8, 2009, announced iPhone application at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference. The application is capable of honking the horn and unlocking some Zipcars.[27]


On October 31, 2007 Zipcar and Flexcar announced their intentions to merge.[28] The merged company retained the name "Zipcar" and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[22] Zipcar's chief executive, former Seattle-based Boeing engineer Scott Griffith, is Chairman and CEO. Flexcar CEO Mark Norman is President and Chief Operating Officer.[22] The merger combined Zipcar's fleet of 3,500 vehicles in 35 markets with Flexcar's 1,500 cars in 15 markets.[22][29]

In December 2009, Zipcar announced their participation in a round of financing with Avancar, the largest car sharing company in Spain, based in Barcelona. Under the terms of the agreement, Zipcar acquired a minority interest in Avancar, a Zipcar executive joined Avancar's board and Zipcar was given a year option to increase the company's ownership stake.[30] In December 2010, Zipcar extended their option for another year through the end of 2011, and provided a monetary loan to Avancar, which is convertible into equity if Zipcar chooses to exercise the option.[31]

In April 2010, Zipcar announced that it had acquired London-based car-sharing club Streetcar.[32] This brought the number of Zipcar members to over 400,000.[33]


Zipcar drop/pick up area downtown Washington, D.C..

Zipcar provides $300,000 per accident in liability coverage for members over 21 years of age. Members at fault are responsible for the first $500 of costs related to the repair, recovery, and loss of use of any Zipcar vehicle.[34] However, members can purchase no-liability insurance for an additional $75 a year. Members involved in accidents where fault is not determined (such as in a hit and run), must pay the first $750 of these costs. In other words, if the member is at fault in an accident, or it is a no-fault accident, Zipcar will cover from $750 up to $300,000 in property damage or bodily injury. For members under 21, Zipcar provides insurance coverage at state-mandated levels.

Insurance coverage may vary depending on the region of use. For example, Canadian members in Toronto, ON are provided with $1,000,000 in liability coverage.[35] Vancouver, BC members are provided with $2,000,000 in liability coverage.[36] Both regions in Canada also include comprehensive and collision coverage in addition to liability insurance. It should also be noted that Zipcars traveling into Canada from the U.S. requires members to obtain a special insurance card from Zipcar.[37] Canadian Zipcars traveling into the U.S. do not need the extra insurance card.[38]

Similar to members of Zipcar U.S., members of Zipcar London, UK, require a special 'vehicle on-hire' certificate when traveling abroad, which can be obtained from Zipcar.[39]

See also


  1. ^ Amendment No. 7 to Form S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission at page 90. 2011-04-07
  2. ^ a b Danny King (2012-09-15). "Zipcar will start carsharing Honda Fit EVs in San Francisco". Autoblog Green. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  3. ^ Ben Mack (2009-06-10). "Zipcar iPhone App Makes Car-Sharing A Breeze". 
  4. ^ Jeff Mortimer (2010-12-20). "My Days as a Zipster". Automotive News. 
  5. ^ "Zipcar Faces Increased Competition". 14 October 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Where can I find car sharing". Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Dominic Gates (2007-10-31). "Seattle's Flexcar merges with rival Zipcar". The Seattle Times. 
  8. ^ Zip stock quote,
  9. ^ a b "The connected car". The Economist. 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  From the print edition.
  10. ^ a b "Zipcar : Flexcar : Member Q&A". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  11. ^ "Zipcar ... frequently asked questions". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  12. ^ . 
  13. ^ "Suit alleges Zipcar pulled fast ones with excessive fees". 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  14. ^ "Suit vs. Zipcar over fees is dismissed". 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  15. ^ Elizabeth Olson (2010-11-22). "A Shift From Company Cars". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ "Zipcar, San Francisco Launch Plug-in Hybrid Pilot Program". Sustainable Business. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  17. ^ a b "Zipcar Launches Pilot PHEV Program in San Francisco". Green Car Congress. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  18. ^ Tom Zeller Jr (2009-02-19). "Electric-Vehicle Charging Stations for San Francisco". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  19. ^ Jonathan Schultz (2011-01-27). "Zipcar Adds Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrids to Fleet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  20. ^ "Vauxhall Ampera offered through Zipcar car sharing scheme". Green Car Congress. 2012-05-20. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  21. ^ Paul R. LaMonica (2007-05-01). "Zipcar drops XM". Media Biz with Paul R. LaMonica. Archived from the original on 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  22. ^ a b c d Gates, Dominic (2007-10-30). "Seattle's Flexcar merges with rival Zipcar". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  23. ^ Steele, Jeanette (2008-01-24). "Flexcar is curbing a majority of its fleet". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  24. ^ "Zipcar doubled membership in past year to 225,000". CarSharing World. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  25. ^ "Zipcars offer campus a new transportation option". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  26. ^ Nassauer, Sarah (2009-04-08). "Zipcar Plans Partnership With Zimride". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  27. ^ Paczkowski, John (2009-06-08). "WWDC 2009 Keynote LIVE: Zipcar, Pasco and Mr. Science!". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  28. ^ "Zipcar and Flexcar Agree to Merge". Press Release. Flexcar. 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  29. ^ Johnson, Caroline Y. (2007-10-31). "Zipcar is expected to join with rival Flexcar". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  30. ^ "Zipcar Invests in Barcelona-Based Avancar". PR Newswire. 2009-12-18. 
  31. ^ "Zipcar Extends Option with Barcelona-Based Avancar". PR Newswire. 2011-01-04. 
  32. ^ Josie Garthwaite (2010-04-21). "Zipcar Snaps Up UK Car-sharing Network Streetcar". earth2tech Blog. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  33. ^ "Zipcar Acquires Streetcar, Expanding World's Largest Car Sharing Service". PRNewswire. 2010-04-21. 
  34. ^ "What's the deal with insurance?". 
  35. ^ "Zipcar: Toronto, ON Terms and Conditions". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  36. ^ "Zipcar: Vancouver, BC Terms and Conditions". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  37. ^ "Zipcar FAQ: If I reserve a Zipcar in the US, can I drive out of state or in Canada?". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  38. ^ "Zipcar FAQ: If I reserve a Zipcar in Canada, can I drive in the US?". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  39. ^ "Zipcar FAQ: If I reserve a Zipcar in the UK, can I drive it abroad?". Retrieved 2012-07-18. 
  40. ^

External links