ZipCar - Prices not very competitive?

 
Old Feb 24, 14, 5:35 am
  #1  
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ZipCar - Prices not very competitive?

I'm a relatively new member with Zipcar (joined Aug 2013). When I first got to DC, there seemed to be quite a few "hourly only" zip cars - Usually Civics and Mazda 3's that were at $8.25/hr - not too bad if I only need the car for 2 or 3 hours... However, I've been noticing that ZipCar has only 1 or 2 hourly cars around me now, and the prices on the rest are not exactly "cheap"

Renting an Elantra for 3 hours would cost me ~$34 or $35 on a weekday with Zipcar, and ~$38 on a weekend.. Not too bad of a deal maybe. However, Hertz has been doing some great weekend rates lately - I can rent an ICAR (Corolla or similar), then almost always get an FCAR through Gold Choice for $25/day... Granted I need to pay for gas, but still seems cheaper.. Weekday rates with Hertz are slightly higher at ~$45/day

I get the convenience of Zipcar, but for my money, I would rather drive a "normal" car that doesn't have giant zip car stickers on the doors and a car where I can take the keys with me.. Any thoughts on the future of car sharing in general? Maybe Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise will find a way to merge their regular fleet and their hourly fleet based on demand and bring down prices?
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Old Feb 24, 14, 3:25 pm
  #2  
 
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Thoughts...

In China with the government backing, there's automated vertical garages that are going up and will be going up everywhere (similar to bicycle rentals), that contain EV's that are currently rentable for about $3/hr...it exists because China is concerned about their terrible smog and pollution and it fears its growing middle class will only make the situation worse unless something is done, so they're doing something about it with subsidies, limiting new issuance of licenses, and encouraging Chinese EV manufacturers to enter the marketplace. It also provides an easy solution for its people who want to enter the middle class and can't afford a TSLA, etc.

In this country I find it highly unlikely that the owners of the major car rental companies will provide any car share situation that would be competitive or destructive of their market share. I've looked at Zipcar and in the places I travel, it makes zero sense.

So to answer your question with my opinion, I do not hold out any high hopes with car sharing in this country; unlike China, I question if the bulk of the population would participate in car sharing to really make it effective, although there are studies, etc., that show young people are increasingly comfortable in not owning a car. I just don't have any confidence that the major car rental companies which have shown so little creative marketing and organization, are going to provide any options that "folks" like me would find efficient or make sense, financially.

As a very frequent renter of cars over the past 10 years, car renting has changed remarkably little, the pricing to them may have an underpinning of logic, it has always escaped me. For companies that lack so much imagination, I have zero confidence they could ever build an effective car share situation. Course then I look at a company like Hertz that is an arm and leg above every other car rental company, but I have no expectation that as they implement their car share "solution", it will ever make financial sense for me, or efficient.

Color me pessimistic.


Originally Posted by CTNYC View Post
I'm a relatively new member with Zipcar (joined Aug 2013). When I first got to DC, there seemed to be quite a few "hourly only" zip cars - Usually Civics and Mazda 3's that were at $8.25/hr - not too bad if I only need the car for 2 or 3 hours... However, I've been noticing that ZipCar has only 1 or 2 hourly cars around me now, and the prices on the rest are not exactly "cheap"

Renting an Elantra for 3 hours would cost me ~$34 or $35 on a weekday with Zipcar, and ~$38 on a weekend.. Not too bad of a deal maybe. However, Hertz has been doing some great weekend rates lately - I can rent an ICAR (Corolla or similar), then almost always get an FCAR through Gold Choice for $25/day... Granted I need to pay for gas, but still seems cheaper.. Weekday rates with Hertz are slightly higher at ~$45/day

I get the convenience of Zipcar, but for my money, I would rather drive a "normal" car that doesn't have giant zip car stickers on the doors and a car where I can take the keys with me.. Any thoughts on the future of car sharing in general? Maybe Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise will find a way to merge their regular fleet and their hourly fleet based on demand and bring down prices?
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Old Feb 25, 14, 3:22 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by randix View Post
In China with the government backing, there's automated vertical garages that are going up and will be going up everywhere (similar to bicycle rentals), that contain EV's that are currently rentable for about $3/hr...it exists because China is concerned about their terrible smog and pollution and it fears its growing middle class will only make the situation worse unless something is done, so they're doing something about it with subsidies, limiting new issuance of licenses, and encouraging Chinese EV manufacturers to enter the marketplace. It also provides an easy solution for its people who want to enter the middle class and can't afford a TSLA, etc.

In this country I find it highly unlikely that the owners of the major car rental companies will provide any car share situation that would be competitive or destructive of their market share. I've looked at Zipcar and in the places I travel, it makes zero sense.

So to answer your question with my opinion, I do not hold out any high hopes with car sharing in this country; unlike China, I question if the bulk of the population would participate in car sharing to really make it effective, although there are studies, etc., that show young people are increasingly comfortable in not owning a car. I just don't have any confidence that the major car rental companies which have shown so little creative marketing and organization, are going to provide any options that "folks" like me would find efficient or make sense, financially.

As a very frequent renter of cars over the past 10 years, car renting has changed remarkably little, the pricing to them may have an underpinning of logic, it has always escaped me. For companies that lack so much imagination, I have zero confidence they could ever build an effective car share situation. Course then I look at a company like Hertz that is an arm and leg above every other car rental company, but I have no expectation that as they implement their car share "solution", it will ever make financial sense for me, or efficient.

Color me pessimistic.
Hmm - That is really interesting about the subsidies in China.. Being a younger person (19 years old in college) I personally do think that owning a car in a major city is a luxury that can easily be avoided with services like Zipcar. While the pricing is too high for frequent or long-term use, it is convenient to be able to get a car located near me (20ish cars available in a 3-4 block radius from me) when I need it for say 30 mins to an hour. By choice, would I want to have my own car in a city? if I can afford it, absolutely, is it a luxury, definitely...

But in the end I don't really know how much carsharing will catch on... Maybe they can implement this kind of technology at regular car rental agencies so that they have a lot full of cars at the airport that you can specifically reserve, and get rid of the counter agent, gate agent, and check-in agent nonsense... Seems like Hertz is moving in this direction with its Kiosk locations in NYC, although I don't exactly know how they work
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Old Feb 26, 14, 4:19 pm
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Originally Posted by CTNYC View Post
Renting an Elantra for 3 hours would cost me ~$34 or $35 on a weekday with Zipcar, and ~$38 on a weekend.. Not too bad of a deal maybe. However, Hertz has been doing some great weekend rates lately - I can rent an ICAR (Corolla or similar), then almost always get an FCAR through Gold Choice for $25/day... Granted I need to pay for gas, but still seems cheaper.. Weekday rates with Hertz are slightly higher at ~$45/day
Are you factoring in the cost of insurance in the price comparison (in addition to gas)?

If you hold insurance that fully covers a rental car anyways (say because you own a car), then the pricing often doesn't compare favorably, but if you factor in what rental car companies usually charge for that coverage, the numbers usually switch.

Also, with services like Zipcar, you more often than not get the ability (after reserving) to just walk up to the car and go. Most of the local rental car companies have a much slower checkout process (if you happen to arrive at the wrong time like I did last time I used Enterprise, it took a good half hour+ before I was driving away in a car).

In general, I don't see them getting rid of the longer process in general anytime soon, partially due to the desire to push the upsell for better revenue/profits, and to check the cars for significant issues on return, although there are sometimes ways to simplify the process (especially on checkout), although it mostly applies to the larger airport facilities (where they also have more inventory to work with).
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Old Feb 26, 14, 4:57 pm
  #5  
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Time is money. With ZipCars parked every couple of blocks and in most garages, you can be in your car and driving away in 5 minutes or less. Not so with a rental. That is the magnet.
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Old Feb 27, 14, 12:12 am
  #6  
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Zipcars are limited to 150 miles/day, and most wouldn't drive more than 40 miles per rental, which would be ~2 gallons or ~$7 in DC.. I get basic insurance complimentary through USAA and my CC would cover the deductible... But I do agree that ZipCars, Hertz 24/7, Enterprise Carshare, etc only have the convenience going for them... The more people who move into a city, the more potential customers they get, but their membership fees are pretty ridiculous without a University or corporate account.. something like $60/year, then essentially $12/hr during the weekdays :/ I only have a ZipCar account because the membership fee is $15 through my university, and the last few times I needed a car, they didn't have one, granted it was the same day...
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Old Oct 3, 14, 6:36 pm
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Love Zipcar!!

I did a 3 hour BMW 350i rental this week, with my new Founder's Card. What a great company, great cars here in Miami Beach!!
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Old Nov 22, 14, 6:46 pm
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We use Hertz 24/7 for quick errands within NYC, but National or any other "normal" rental for anything else.

Think you'll find on average hourly rentals make sense when you are doing just that. However after three or more hours at most rates charged by Zipcar or Hertz 27/7 you are often better off just going to a "regular" daily rental place.

That being said it is not a direct comparison between hourly and daily rentals. Both Zipcar and Hertz offerings include fuel and a good amount of insurance. Most 24/hr. rentals do not unless you pay as an added on feature. Also the latter usually have unlimited miles while the former have caps.

Personally would never roll up to a family event or social function in a "Zipcar". All those stickers and what not just look too cheesy. At least with a normal rental vehicle you can *pretend* it is yours.
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Old Nov 25, 14, 3:19 pm
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Another knock against ZipCar (and I am a member) is cancellation fees if you cancel less than 3 hours before your reservation or within 24 hours on an 8+ hour reservation. Just got dinged $15 because a client cancelled a meeting. The 150-mile limit also makes traditional rentals more affordable than ZipCar on many of my day trips.

I use Car2Go a lot in Portland. It's a totally different model, but it's very affordable for short hops around town. I probably use it five times as frequently as ZipCar - and no annual fee, either.
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Old Nov 25, 14, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by czpdx View Post
Another knock against ZipCar (and I am a member) is cancellation fees if you cancel less than 3 hours before your reservation or within 24 hours on an 8+ hour reservation. Just got dinged $15 because a client cancelled a meeting. The 150-mile limit also makes traditional rentals more affordable than ZipCar on many of my day trips.

I use Car2Go a lot in Portland. It's a totally different model, but it's very affordable for short hops around town. I probably use it five times as frequently as ZipCar - and no annual fee, either.
Have to say at least Hertz 24/7 is a bit more forgiving regarding cancellations. You just need to do so more than an hour before the reservation. Sometimes if you forget or whatever and ask CS really nicely........ Just don't make it a habit. *LOL*
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