Zipcar - A Product Becomes a Service

Zipcar is a cool example of a product being made into a service—i.e. people pay to use a service (use of a car) instead of buying the product (the car itself). For those where Zipcar hasn’t yet hit—so far it’s in MA,NY,NJ,NC and DC—Zipcar is a like a community rental service, you become a member and then use the service whenever you want. It’s there for you when you need it, but isn’t a hassle when you don’t…Plus, Zipcar claims to reduce car usage by individuals by as much as 50% and also that one Zipcar replaces 7-10 privately owned cars, giving people the option to share cars instead of everyone buying and using their own, which is good in ways that we’re sure we don’t need to explain to you, savvy reader.

Now imagine if we implemented similar services for things like power drills and chainsaws—things are that handy to have, but that you don’t necessarily use all the time. By creating community centers for use, we’d eliminate tons of barely-used product, and therefore, waste.

Now imagine if consumers bought things like their oil tanks and washing machines based on the services provided to them instead of based on the object itself. It would encourage people and vendors alike to value the service, instead of the material item, thereby encouraging long-lasting products—and good service. Now we begin to see the bigger picture that something like Zipcar presents to our brave new world. Check out more on the concept of products becoming services in Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution!

Zipcar is obviously an excellent service in urban settings, a little trickier in suburban/rural ones. But we like where their taking us. Rates vary by area, but are generally about $5-8/hour and $55-65/day, including gas. Likely, a lot cheaper and more convenient than owning your own behemoth.::Zipcar