By Eric Spear, VP of Technology, Zipcar
Sixteen years ago, Zipcar, the world’s leading car sharing network, set out on a bold mission to change the way city-dwellers view mobility. We understood that the conventional owner-driver model was not going to be sustainable as cities continued to grow. Today, Zipcar has nearly a million members who have made the pivot from paying for a car to simply paying for a trip. In fact, their adoption of car sharing led to the rise in other mobility options, which in turn has accelerated the transition to a shared mobility future.
The automotive world, which has long-viewed car sharing as a potential threat, has recently made a seismic shift away from the traditional one car/one owner model. Ford announced a way for a small group of owners to share a single lease, GM announced a $500 Mn investment in ride sharing company Lyft and the launch of a car sharing service called Maven. These are just to name a few.
The future of mobility is paying for the trip, not the car
Zipcar views these announcements as a victory. Our long-standing vision of a world where car sharers outnumber car owners has never been more attainable, and ironically, it is the auto industry that will hasten that transition.
The shift to mobility services by the automakers is a shift to persist in a fast changing world. With the rise of a variety of mobility options, we know that city-dwellers have a suite of transportation choices that includes biking, walking, public transit, taxi or Uber and more. It is now easier than ever to live in a city and not need to own a car. And for times when you do need a car – there’s Zipcar.
At Zipcar, we focus on investment in growth and innovation. In the past year alone, we began deploying new car share models, such as our ONE>WAY service. The service was established ZipLabs, an R&D environment where our best and brightest personnel ideate and innovate with the future of mobility in mind; and acquired a technology company on the West Coast adding some remarkably talented software and mechanical engineers who are redefining mobility service and vehicle telematics to our already talented team.
We have expanded our university footprint to over 500 campuses across North America and our fast fleet program that enables fleets to use our technology to simplify process and save money. In addition to this, we joined forces with the University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center, a collaborative organization working on smart cities and autonomous cars.
As we have been saying for years, the future of mobility is paying for the trip, not the car. As the world’s leading car sharing network with nearly one million members in over 500 cities and towns and an aggressive roadmap ahead, we are uniquely suited to continue to lead this revolution in urban mobility. We will continue to evolve our service to provide the best possible member experience. We know users want more flexibility in the trip, including dropping off at a different end destination, booking and driving on demand, and unlimited extensions on reservations – all through your smartphone. We could not be more excited to be behind the wheel as we enter the next major chapter in auto-mobility.