11:29 Wed 02 Aug 2006
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I started using Zipcar a few months ago, and I love it.

The idea is similar to City Car Share: you get access to cars on an hourly basis. The cars are parked in lots scattered throughout the city, and the system is electronic so that no interaction/paperwork is required to get a car once you’ve booked it. Booking can be done online or over the phone. Cars are $8.50, $10.50, or $12.50 per hour, depending on car fanciness. Once you book for between eight and twenty-four hours, you get the “daily” rate, which is $60, $70, or $90. For each booking, the first 125 miles you drive don’t have any mileage charge. They cover both insurance and gas.

There are six cars within 0.16 miles of where I live. It’s incredibly convenient. The cars are all pretty new, and I haven’t had any problems with them. Booking in advance is usually necessary for the weekends, as it appears to be quite popular.

The main issue I have is trying to make sure that I don’t use it too much. I really enjoy driving (possibly because I’ve only been doing it for a fairly short time), and I will book cars whenever I come up with a halfway-plausible excuse to do so. I can easily justify this by comparing it to the cost of owning a car… for example, in my neighborhood, it would cost me about $300/month just to park my car. Five entire days of Zipcar rentals that can be pseudo-justified rather easily.

I do wish they had cars with manual transmissions. Sadly, that’s unlikely to ever happen.

Zipcar is not limited to San Francisco, but extends to other cities as well, currently Boston, Chapel Hill, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. I haven’t tried any other cities yet, but being able to visit one of them and have the same easy access to cars is very appealing.

So far, I’ve driven these car models: Toyota Prius, Scion xA, Scion xB, Volvo S40, Ford Eclipse, Mazda 3 Hatchback, and Mazda 3 Sedan. The Mazda 3s are by far my favorites, the Prius is a nice car, and the S40 and Eclipse are the ones I’d try to avoid driving. The cars I want to drive but haven’t yet are the BMW 325, the Mini, and (to a lesser extent) the Ford Mustang convertible.

My experiences with them have been good, but some others (mostly in New York, apparently) have had problems, as you can see in the comments for this article.

Now if only they’d extend their service to Dublin…

2 Responses to “Zipcar”

  1. NiallM Says:

    What was the Prius like?

  2. Tadhg Says:

    The Prius was good, I thought that maybe it would feel a little “weak”, but this wasn’t a problem. Fuel consumption was excellent, in fact I worried for a while that the fuel readout was broken, because I didn’t appear to be using any.

    The only thing I don’t like about it is that the frame blocks some of the view, so when you’re looking left while about to take a right (translate to looking right while about to take a left for you), you sometimes have to look around the frame to see properly. Apart from that, I had no issues with it, and found it quite impressive.

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