You are on page 1of 4

Sharing to Avoid All the Hassles - New York Times 12/8/09 1:15 PM

Welcome to TimesPeople Recommend1:14 PM
TimesPeople Lets You Share and Discover the Best of NYTimes.com
Get Started

HOME PAGE MY TIMES TODAY'S PAPER VIDEO MOST POPULAR TIMES TOPICS Welcome, hootsiemama Member Center Log Out

Automobiles Automobiles All NYT

WORLD U.S. N.Y. / REGION BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY SCIENCE HEALTH SPORTS OPINION ARTS STYLE TRAVEL JOBS REAL ESTATE AUTOS

RESEARCH A CAR COLLECTIBLE CARS SEARCH LISTINGS DEALER PRICE QUOTES SELL YOUR CAR

Sharing to Avoid All the Hassles A Special Section: Cars

AUTOMOTIVE CALENDAR & CLUB
DIRECTORY
AUTOMOTIVE EVENT CAR CLUB DIRECTORY
CALENDAR

UPCOMING EVENTS View All Events »
12/11 FRIDAY SEARCH CALENDAR BY:
Nascar and Sporting
Collectibles Auction » Select Location
Auburn, Ind.
Select Type
12/15 TUESDAY
Enter Keyword
CAR Breakfast
Briefing: Picking Up December 2009
the Pieces… » M T W T F S S
The Ann Arbor Marriott
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
01/18 MONDAY 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Barrett-Jackson 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times Scottsdale Sale » 28 29 30 31 1 2 3
READY TO GO Christina Noren unlocks the Zipcar she reserved online. Scottsdale, Ariz. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
By LAURA NOVAK
Published: October 25, 2006
E-MAIL Add This Calendar to Your Site » Submit an Event »

San Francisco PRINT

REPRINTS
Enlarge This Image CHRISTINA NOREN’S dream car sits
in a rented space near her San
Francisco home. It is a cream colored Wheels E-Mail
1963 Studebaker Avanti that she has Sign up to receive a weekly dose of news, trends and all
things automotive. See Sample
coveted since childhood, when one laura.a.novak@gmail.com
sped past her on the Golden Gate Change E-mail Address | Privacy Policy

Bridge. But the Avanti is technically a garage queen,
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
pampered and dormant. So Ms. Noren must rely on a car-
Reserved parking spot for a Zipcar.
sharing service for her daily needs — letting the service
carry the financial and logistical burdens of owning the
car she uses the most.

“I just found it the most convenient way to have a car when and where I need it in the
city,” said Ms. Noren, who lives in North Beach but runs a start-up company in the
South of Market neighborhood. “I own a fun car that I can’t rely on to get me to a
meeting on time. But to me it would be so unnecessary to have a lease on a modern,
boring car that is going to lose value and get less interesting by the year.”

Car sharing may be a small but growing business, but its environmental good sense and
cost-effectiveness are reverberating across America.

Car-sharing services provide what experts in the field call “mobility insurance” because
these businesses provide instant, convenient access to a wide variety of vehicles, many of
them hybrids, on a pay-as-you-go basis. An hourly rate can cost about $2 to $13,
depending on the car and time of day.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/25/automobiles/autospecial/25share.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Page 1 of 4
Sharing to Avoid All the Hassles - New York Times 12/8/09 1:15 PM

depending on the car and time of day.

As many as 18 car-sharing services, with nearly 102,000 members and 2,558 vehicles,
are operating in 60 American cities. Many are smaller regional services. Two of the
bigger companies, Flexcar and Zipcar, overlap in Washington, D.C., and the San
Francisco Bay Area, where a third agency, City CarShare, is well established. (Zipcar also
shares the Chicago market with I-GO, which is a partner with Flexcar.) Zipcar is in New
York City, too.

Car-sharing operators charge a registration and monthly fee that offers access to a
variety of cars for hourly rates. (Some tack on mileage.) The heavy lifting of insurance,
repairs, maintenance and even filling the gas tank is left to the service.

The programs also spare members the hassle of parking, especially in urban areas where
the words “parking space” and “nightmare” can be synonymous. Dedicated parking MOST POPULAR

zones guarantee space and are increasingly located near public-transportation centers. E-MAILED BLOGGED SEARCHED

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system currently has 40 spaces reserved for car-sharing 1. Nicholas D. Kristof: Cancer From the Kitchen?
services outside its stations. 2. Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show
3. Married (Happily) With Issues
“It’s well thought out, the rules and online reservations,” Ms. Noren said. “I just know
4. As Hawaii’s Seas Roil, Surfers Await the Big One
that when I reserve a car, it will be clean and just what I need for the occasion. I can 5. Religion Journal: Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis in
park it and forget about it.” Montana
6. Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom
Car sharing originated in Europe in 1948 but gained popularity in Germany and 7. Mind: Postpartum Depression Strikes Fathers, Too
Switzerland in the 80’s. By the late 90’s, the first programs were taking shape in 8. Well: Firm Body, No Workout Required?
America, and now nearly a third of the world’s car-sharing members are here. Member- 9. Secret’s Out: Sample Sales Move Online
vehicle ratios, or the number of people who share each car, have risen from 7:1 in 1998 10. Picking (Up) Winners Without Placing a Bet
to 40:1 in 2005.
Go to Complete List »

Dr. Susan Shaheen is the director of the Innovative Mobility Research group and a
research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who focuses on advanced
transportation systems and has conducted surveys on car sharing.

“These programs are becoming popular based on three key trends,” Dr. Shaheen said.
“The first is ongoing growth in membership and demand for vehicles. The second is
infusion of capital from the private sector. And the third is that there must be more
demand than is being served because we’re seeing multiple operators in several cities.”

Customer loyalty can come from something as simple as which company’s car is parked
nearest a home or office. Some members choose a provider based on the fleet choices.
Pogue & friends
ALSO IN VIDEO »
But the companies welcome the competition, especially in San Francisco, saying that Food gift guide
three competitors only triple exposure to the ecological and financial benefits of car Travel gift guide

sharing.

“A competitive market challenges everyone to be on top of their game from the product
point of view and customer service,” said Mark D. Norman, chief executive of Flexcar.
ADVERTISEMENTS
“We play hard with Zip and City Car Share in San Francisco. But the market is better for
it.”

Flexcar was bought last year by the venture capital firm of Stephen M. Case, a founder of
America Online. Mr. Norman declined to state Flexcar’s revenues, but said that the
second quarter of this year showed a 90 percent growth in revenues. At Zipcar, Scott
Griffith, the chief executive, said that revenues would reach $30 million this year, up 100
percent from 2005. The company has also raised $30 million in equity in the last two
years to further its expansion.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/25/automobiles/autospecial/25share.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Page 2 of 4
Sharing to Avoid All the Hassles - New York Times 12/8/09 1:15 PM

The main force behind the success of car sharing has been that fewer cars on the road
equals less congestion and lower emissions and energy use.

Dr. Shaheen said that studies from 1999 to 2005 indicate that 11 to 26 percent of car-
sharing participants in the United States sold a personal vehicle after using a service,
and 12 to 68 percent postponed or entirely avoided buying a car.

“There’s always a temptation to look at the environmental focus,” Mr. Griffith said. “But
I think that’s the sizzle and not the steak. This is a very compelling opportunity to not
own a car and have all the convenience at less cost. It makes a lot of sense.”

Dr. Shaheen said that the limitations of urban space will eventually force these
companies to move beyond their neighborhood niches to partnerships with developers
and planned communities outside cities.

Zipcar and Flexcar have already begun programs on university campuses. Overlapping
memberships, Dr. Shaheen said, will also provide ease of use between cities, connecting
the dots for users around the country.

Despite positive reactions from customers, car-sharing operators have not thought of
everything.

Michelle Paris of Oakland loved car sharing because a vehicle was parked across the
street from her house. But she had to cancel her contract and buy a second car.

“The biggest issue was the car seat,” Ms. Paris said. “If I wanted to bring my son
anywhere, I had to bring my own car seat. Car sharing targets a pretty narrow market.
And as you move in or out of that market, you may not find it valuable to use.”

Sign in to Recommend

More Articles in Automobiles »

Subscribe to Times Reader 2.0 and get $100 off a Samsung
GoTM netbook

Ads by Google what's this?

SF New Condos For Sale
Newest Boutique Condos in San Francisco. Become a VIP Today.
www.OneHawthorne.com

Zip Car
Hundreds of cars in San Francisco Daily & Hourly Rates- From $7/Hr
www.Zipcar.com

Liability Insurance
Official Site of AAA Auto Insurance Great low rates. Get a free quote.
www.AAA.com

Related Articles
Gridlock Up Ahead? Stay Posted (October 25, 2006)
Parking and Paying Get EZier (October 25, 2006)
Reappraising a Bridge, and a 'Visionary' (July 11, 2006)
Capitalist Roaders (July 2, 2006)

Related Searches
Automobiles
Commuting
Environment

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/25/automobiles/autospecial/25share.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Page 3 of 4
Sharing to Avoid All the Hassles - New York Times 12/8/09 1:15 PM

INSIDE NYTIMES.COM

T MAGAZINE» HEALTH » OPINION » SPORTS » OPINION » BOOKS »

Room for Still Counting
Debate: The the Ways to
Food Stamp Infiltrate Daily
Economy Lives
As more people receive Ken Auletta depicts
aid, should the rules be Google as a behemoth
aimed at promoting that can be both naïve
better nutrition? and arrogant in its
See the New Look of T Well: Firm Body, No For Volleyball Coach, the Op-Ed: Coverage Without dealings with the world.
Magazine Workout Required? Streak Is Beside the Point Borders

Home World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Job Market Real Estate Automobiles Back
to Top
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS First Look Help Contact Us Work for Us Site Map

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/25/automobiles/autospecial/25share.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Page 4 of 4