Zipcar is a car-sharing service with roots, hundreds of cars and thousands of customers in the Portland area. The company's goal is to help people save money by owning fewer cars than they would otherwise have to.
Instead, Zipsters (as the company calls its members) typically pay $7 to $13 per hour for occasional access to shared cars parked on city streets. The prices include free gas and insurance.
Zipcar also manages shared on-site vehicles for employers, colleges and universities.
Heavy presence in Portland
As of March 2009, Zipcar operated 215 cars in Portland.
In July 2010 the company opened a new office downtown at 739 SW 10th Ave, across the street from the central Multnomah County Public Library.
The company often sends sales representatives to neighborhood events in the Portland area.
Memberships and promotions
As of summer 2010, Zipcar memberships typically cost $50 a year plus a one-time $25 processing fee. Representatives offer promotions at local events and festivals almost every weekend, typically giving new customers the value of their membership fee in free driving during their first month of membership.
Many Portland apartments and condos offer annual Zipcar discounts to their residents. Zipcar provides that benefit at no cost to the building and its managers.
Roots in Portland
The first commercial car-sharing service in the United States, Car Sharing Portland, was founded in March 1998 by Dave Brook of Portland. In 2001 Brook sold his company to Seattle-based Flexcar, which was in turn bought by in 2007 by Boston-based Zipcar. Portland residents will still sometimes refer to Zipcar as Flexcar.
Portland was the first city in the country to give car-sharing companies free parking spaces on public streets. This has become a key element in the Zipcar business model.
Partnership with the city to help charge electric vehicles
Zipcar is considering a deal with the City of Portland that would let electric vehicle owners who are also Zipcar members reserve time at one of several "fast chargers" around the city.
In a policy approved by Portland's city council in July 2010, the city described its goals:
Most EV users will charge their cars at home each night. However a significant number of homes, apartments and condominiums in Portland do not have the off-street parking that is generally required to install a home charging unit. The City believes every resident of Portland should have access to the benefits of EVs if they choose. This is why the City is exploring a first of its kind partnership with Zipcar. ... Under this potential program, EV owners that are Zipcar members could use Zipcar’s reservation technology to secure time at a fast charger in one of several central locations, potentially in City-owned garages. This unique partnership will allow EV owners to charge their cars at a time that is convenient for them, and do it in less than half an hour.
News articles about Zipcar
- New York Times magazine article about car-sharing, including its Portland roots
- official website
- map of Zipcars in Portland
- Portland apartments and condos offering Zipcar discounts to residents