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Zipcar Is Zipping It's Way All Over Europe

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On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 3:08PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Zipcar Is Zipping It's Way All Over Europe

Perhaps one of the most innovative notions that has ever reached the auto rental loving and using masses—perhaps most people are not fond of renting cars because they are paying and they are not driving their own cars—Zipcar is growing exponentially, according to some breaking news reports that show some shocking numbers, as far as expansion and a surprise company merger between the Euro equivalent—or what was up until recently—Streetcar. But this is really no surprise, because there are many desirable features this car rental service has to offer to people, universities, as well as businesses too.

Rates and Plans

The summary of what the company’s service model embodies is rather simple at heart, according to their website, and very innovative when you think about it. Once you sign up and are approved for using a Zipcar—which you can do at their website online at www.zipcar.com—you can then use the website to locate cars that are parked and are for rent in areas near to you. Many places have special Zipcar parking for drivers to park the cars when they are done using them, and for other drivers to pick up and use later on, as opposed to returning them to a specified car rental lot. Anybody who has a Zip card can unlock and drive the car. The company automatically bills the costs of the miles you drove (which for most of their plans include up to 180 miles per day; but you can up that online by adding more miles to your plan). The cars also have a free fuel card in them that you can use to fill up at any gas station, as well. And as far as insurance goes, you are covered with their insurance by being a member, so no worries there.

When looking at their website for what Zipcar poignantly called “Seattle personal driving plans”, there two options offered: “occasional driving plan,” and, “extra value plan”. The real difference between them is pennies saved for drivers who use the plans more often. The usage of either plan requires a $25 US application fee, as well as a $50 US annual fee, which does not vary for either plans. However, some drivers who use Zipcar or Streetcar often can save a few bucks by opting to go with their Extra Value Plans; similar rates are in effect in Europe, just priced out in Euros.

The premise of both of these entities, as they so proudly claim on their websites (and, yes, just in case you were wondering, Streetcar.com also now states on their website – http://www.streetcar.co.uk – that they are a “Zipcar Company) is that consumers can enjoy hourly car rentals ranging from a variety of models, and not have to stomach paying full daily car rental fees. If you really think about this, it can truly make a bit of sense for the always, well, most of the time always, budget minded traveler.

Now, the car rental company has vastly expanded its market to include 75 different markets, according to a recent interview in the New York Times with the company’s president, Mark Norman. And with a company that is just passing the six-year mark, and one that already has over a thousand British locations, this is just the start of something big.

According to the article in New York Times, the deal is valued at more than $50-million dollars, US. Norman could not be any giddier about this deal, stating in the interview, “We believe there are 75 top global markets in which car-sharing has high potential.” He goes on to further state, “About a third of those high-potential markets can be found in Europe.”

Pretty high marks for a rather young car rental company, wouldn’t you think?

Makes me wish I had bought shares early on.

Then again, we saw something similar into the doughnut industry, as well.

Does anybody recall Krispy Kreme and the amazingly, cream-filled European fallout they had when they tried to expand? Stock owners were not thrilled, to say the least.

But the CEO of the company seems pretty confident about their expansion.

In an interview with Boston Business Journal, Scott Griffith (CEO of Zipcar) stated, “The ability to grow was a key reason to bring together Zipcar and Streetcar, and we’re pleased to add a new country (Scotland) to our growing global network.”

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