I signed up for ZipCar yesterday at a street fair in San Francisco. The car sharing service makes it easy to rent cars by the hour on the cheap and there are several ZipCar vehicles garaged within walking distance of me.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a ZipCar iPhone application will be available soon. This application will allow ZipCar members find available vehicles, reserve them and more. Once you reserve a car you can unlock it with the ZipCar iPhone application. If you have trouble locating it, you can use the app to beep the vehicle’s horn.
I signed up for ZipCar because my wife and I now share a car. This arrangement generally works out fine, but there are a handful of occasions per month where it would be nice to have a second car, but we’ve avoided any real crunches.
We’ve gotten rid of two extra cars over the past three years because they were rarely used and I’d rather invest in one excellent vehicle instead of splitting our car budget amongst several.
ZipCar, and other car sharing services, really push the green angle, but I have to admit that what convinced me to sign up was pure economics.
It amazes me that the hourly rental fees of about $9/hour include insurance and fuel. This means that it’s significantly cheaper for me to use a ZipCar than buy or lease a second car. In some situations it will be cheaper for me to rent a ZipCar for an hour than drive my own car.
My ZipCar application was just approved today and my wife is going out of town for a week, so it will be some time before I have an excuse to use a ZipCar. I searched reservations for Tuesday morning from 9am to noon and there were 20 available vehicles within a mile of my home. Most of the vehicles were compacts, but there were several small SUVs and station wagons available too. Some of them had iPod adapters.
ZipCar uses Dell Latitude notebooks and Sierra Wireless 3G cards to sign up customers at street fairs and other events.