Car-Sharing Going Even More Mainstream?Car-sharing makes a ton of sense. Not everybody needs to own a car, but even those that do their day-to-day business on foot, bike, or using public transit could sometimes benefit from having access to a car. That's what car-sharing provides, almost hassle-free (no need to deal directly with securing a parking spot, maintenance, insurance, etc), and in a much greener way. You can even choose between various models and select the one that fits your needs best (ie. highest MPG, biggest hauling capacity, etc). What's not to like? Well, apparently Avis liked it so much that it decided to buy the biggest car-sharing player in the world, Zipcar.
The deal has a tag price of about $500 million and, if everything goes well, should take place in the Spring of 2013. Zipcar is no small fish to swallow: It has 767,000 members and a fleet of 11,000 vehicles around the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria.
"By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our Company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs," said Ronald L. Nelson, Avis Budget Group chairman and chief executive officer. "We see car sharing as highly complementary to traditional car rental, with rapid growth potential and representing a scalable opportunity for us as a combined company. We expect to apply Avis Budget's experience and efficiencies of fleet management with Zipcar's proven, customer-friendly technology to accelerate the growth of the Zipcar brand and to provide more options for Zipsters in more places. We also expect to leverage Zipcar's technology to expand mobility solutions under the Avis and Budget brands."
Hopefully they'll keep including many hybrids, and plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars in their fleet over time. It's a perfect test-bed for this new technology, and a great way to allow people to give plug-in vehicles a try before buying (as I'm sure happened with regular hybrids in many cases).
Car-sharing certainly looks like it is growing up to be a very big business, with large opportunities for expansion still existing on all corners of the world.