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Industry Car rental
Founded January 2000 (2000-01)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founder Antje Danielson
Robin Chase
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts
Area served
Urban areas and college campuses throughout Austria, Canada, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States
Key people
Kaye Ceille (President)
Services Car sharing
Number of employees
over 700 [1]
Parent Avis Budget Group
Footnotes / references

Zipcar is an American car sharing company, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group. Zipcar provides automobile reservations to its members, billable by the hour or day. Zipcar members pay a monthly or annual membership fee in addition to car reservations charges. Zipcar was founded in 2000 by Cambridge, Massachusetts residents Antje Danielson and Robin Chase.

On March 14, 2013, Avis Budget Group purchased Zipcar for about US$500 million in cash. Zipcar operates as a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group. Scott Griffith, who had run the company for the previous 10 years, resigned the day after the acquisition closed, and passed the reins to a new company president, Mark Norman.[5] In early 2014, Kaye Ceille took over as Zipcar's North American President.

As of June 2015, the company had more than 900,000 members and offers nearly 10,000 vehicles throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Austria and Turkey, making Zipcar one of the world's leading car rental networks.[6]

Members can reserve Zipcars with Zipcar's mobile app, online or by phone at any time, immediately or up to a year in advance. Zipcar members have automated access to Zipcars using an access card which works with the car's technology to unlock the door, where the keys are already located inside. Zipcar also offers an iPhone or Android application that allows members to honk the horn to locate a Zipcar and unlock the doors.[7] Zipcar charges a one-time application fee, an annual fee, and a reservation charge. Fuel, parking, insurance, and maintenance are included in the price.[8]

In the third quarter of 2007, Zipcar merged with Seattle-based rival Flexcar to create a nationwide car rental company.[9] The company's IPO was in April 2011. Zipcar common stock traded on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "ZIP" until it was acquired by Avis.[10][11]


Zipvan vehicle in London.

Zipcar was co-founded by Antje Danielson and Robin Chase based on existing German and Swiss companies in January 2000. In June 2000, the first Zipcars hit the road around Boston, Massachusetts. In September 2001, the Washington, D.C. office opened, with the branch in New York City following in February 2002. In February 2003, Scott Griffith replaced Robin Chase as CEO. In July 2005, Zipcar secured $10 million in funding led by Benchmark Capital. In August 2005, San Francisco office opened. In May 2006, the Toronto office opened. In May 2006, General Electric's Commercial Finance Fleet Services (NYSEGE) gave Zipcar $20 million in lease line financing. In September 2006, Toronto market was named fastest growing new market in company history. In November 2006, London office opened. In April 2007, Vancouver office opened. In October 2007, Zipcar and Flexcar executives announced a merger of the two companies, with the Zipcar brand and headquarters replacing that of Flexcar.[12]

On January 23, 2008, the merged Zipcar/Flexcar canceled service for the Southern California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego without providing advanced notice to customers in those areas. Southern California college operations were left intact.[13] On July 11, 2008, Zipcar announced it doubled membership in past year, including the Flexcar members it acquired, and now had 225,000 members.[14] On August 28, 2008, Rice University announced the introduction into the program in their goal of achieving as low of a carbon footprint as possible while providing additional transportation options for employees that carpool.[15] In June 2009, the company announced an iPhone application at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference. The application is capable of honking the horn and unlocking some Zipcars.[16]

Following impressive third-quarter results, previous CEO Scott Griffith announced that 2012 would mark Zipcar's "first full year of profitability on a US GAAP basis".[17]


The Honda Civic Hybrid is part of Zipcar's clean fuel vehicle fleet.

Members are able to view vehicle availability and reserve a self-service car via the internet, iPhone and Android applications, or telephone, in increments as short as thirty minutes. Members pay only for time they reserve. Zipcar vehicles report their positions to a control center using in-car technology.[18] In the U.S., each reservation entitles the members up to 180 miles (290 km) for each 24-hour period,[19] while Canadian members receive up to 200 kilometres (120 mi) with each reservation for the first 24 hours, and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) per each additional hour beyond the initial 24.[20] Individual members can sign up for one of two different plans, the "Occasional Driving Plan" and the "Extra Value Plan".[19]

Members are given an access card containing a wireless chip that will open the vehicle they have reserved only at the time they have reserved it.[18] The reservation includes driver's insurance, a gas card for the car, reimbursements for fuel obtained at gas stations that do not accept the included gas card, and up to $15 in reimbursements for typical car maintenance items like car washes and window wiper fluid refills. A member can reserve and use a Zipcar in any Zipcar city.


Zipcar parking in Pittsburgh.

Zipcar was sued in 2009 and again in 2011[21] by customers upset with Zipcar for allegedly charging customers excessive or hidden fees. The suit cited several hidden charges, including a charge to talk to a customer service representative even when customers call to report a problem that cannot be handled through the website or automated phone system, additional fees on top of the cost of a parking ticket even if the tickets were overturned in court, late fees starting at $50, a fee to retrieve items left in cars, and an inactivity fee.[22] According to the complaint, many customers may not even be aware of the charges because Zipcar does not send monthly statements. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2010 after U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton found that every penalty except an inactive-user charge is legal.[23]

University, organization and business partnerships[edit]

Zipcar launched its Zipcar for Business program in early 2004 to provide companies with discounts on Monday-Friday driving. Since the launch of the program, Zipcar has signed 10,000 small, medium, and large sized businesses, as companies are increasingly adopting Zipcar's on demand car rental model as a cost-saving alternative for employee travel.[24] Zipcar has partnered with over 300 colleges and universities across North America.[25]

Zipcar fleet[edit]

The Chevrolet Volt Plug-in hybrid is available to Zipcar members in Chicago.

Zipcar offers more than 50 makes and models of vehicles, including BMWs, Audis, Mini Coopers, Prius Hybrids, pickup trucks and more. Each vehicle has a home location: a reserved parking space located on a street, driveway or neighborhood parking lot in the member's area, to which it must be returned at the end of the reservation. The locations of all Zipcars and models available at those locations are available at the Zipcar website. Zipcar currently has a fleet of nearly 10,000 vehicles.[26]

Embedded technologies[edit]

Zipcars have RFID transponders located on the windshield that communicates with the card to lock and unlock the doors of the vehicle. Each vehicle records hours of usage and mileage, which is uploaded to a central computer via a wireless data link. The location of the vehicles is not tracked during a reservation for privacy reasons but is trackable and all cars are equipped with a "kill" function that allows the company to prevent the car from starting in the event of theft (it does not cause the car to turn off, for safety reasons).[citation needed] Zipcar also offers the embedded Information Technologies it has installed in its fleet as a fleet optimization service through its FastFleet service.

Clean fuel vehicles[edit]

Among its fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles, and through an agreement between Honda and Zipcar, the program offers clean fuel and low-emission vehicles that include the Insight hybrid, Civic Hybrid, and Honda Fit EV all-electric car.[17]


On October 31, 2007, Zipcar and Flexcar announced their intentions to merge.[27] The merged company retained the name "Zipcar" and was headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[12] Zipcar's chief executive, former Seattle-based Boeing engineer Scott Griffith, became Chairman and CO, while Flexcar CEO Mark Norman became President and Chief Operating Officer.[12] The merger combined Zipcar's fleet of 3,500 vehicles in 35 markets with Flexcar's 1,500 cars in 15 markets.[12][28]

In December 2009, Zipcar announced their participation in a round of financing with Avancar, the largest on-demand car rental company in Spain, based in Barcelona. Under the terms of the agreement, Zipcar acquired a minority interest in Avancar, a Zipcar executive joined Avancar's board and Zipcar was given a year option to increase the company's ownership stake.[29] Later on in April 2010, Zipcar announced that it had acquired London-based car-sharing club Streetcar.[30] In December 2010, Zipcar extended their option for another year through the end of 2011, and provided a monetary loan to Avancar, which is convertible into equity if Zipcar chooses to exercise the option.[31] On October 17, 2012, Zipcar announced the completion of its Avancar integration.[4]

In 2014, Zipcar expanded to the Houston and Dallas TX regions. [32] The addition of these new cities marks Zipcar’s availability in 28[33] major metropolitan markets throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria.

In 2014, Zipcar expanded coverage in Greater Toronto and Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, in partnership with Metrolinx.[34] Zipcar also launched in Paris, France and Madrid, Spain in 2014.

In 2015, Zipcar expanded to Ottawa and Istanbul.


Zipcar drop off/pick up area in downtown Washington, D.C.

Zipcar provides liability coverage of $100,000 bodily injury per person, $300,000 bodily injury maximum, $25,000 property damage per accident for members over 21 years of age who joined after March 1, 2015 . Members at fault are responsible for the first $1000 of costs related to the repair, recovery, and loss of use of any Zipcar vehicle.[35] However, members can purchase no-liability insurance for an additional $79 a year. Members involved in accidents where fault is not determined (such as in a hit and run), must pay the first $1000 of these costs. For members under 21, Zipcar provides insurance coverage at state-mandated levels.

Insurance coverage may vary depending on the region of use. For example, Canadian members in Toronto, ON are provided with $1,000,000 in liability coverage.[36] Vancouver, BC members are provided with $2,000,000 in liability coverage.[37] Both regions in Canada also include comprehensive and collision coverage in addition to liability insurance. Zipcars traveling into Canada from the U.S. require members to obtain a special insurance card from Zipcar.[38] Canadian Zipcars traveling into the U.S. do not need the extra insurance card.[39]

Similar to members of Zipcar U.S., members of Zipcar London, UK, require a special 'vehicle on-hire' certificate when traveling abroad, which can be obtained from Zipcar.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Avis Budget - Investor Relations". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  2. ^ Grillo, Thomas (2013-04-08). "Zipcar getting makeover of new corporate HQ". The Boston Business Journal. Retrieved 2015-12-14. 
  3. ^ "Where the cars are". Zipcar. Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  4. ^ a b "Avis Budget - Investor Relations". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  5. ^ Rebecca Greenfield (2013-03-15). "Uh Oh, ZipCar's CEO Stepped Down Right After Its Merger with Avis". 
  6. ^ "zipcar reports fourth quarter and full year 2012 results" (Press release). February 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  7. ^ Ben Mack (2009-06-10). "Zipcar iPhone App Makes Car-Sharing A Breeze". Wired. 
  8. ^ Jeff Mortimer (2010-12-20). "My Days as a Zipster". Automotive News. 
  9. ^ Dominic Gates (2007-10-31). "Seattle's Flexcar merges with rival Zipcar". The Seattle Times. 
  10. ^ "Avis Budget to buy Zipcar for $500 mln". Reuters. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Avis Budget Group Completes Acquisition of Zipcar". Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d Gates, Dominic (2007-10-30). "Seattle's Flexcar merges with rival Zipcar". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  13. ^ Steele, Jeanette (2008-01-24). "Flexcar is curbing a majority of its fleet". U-T San Diego. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  14. ^ "Zipcar doubled membership in past year to 225,000". CarSharing World. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  15. ^ "Zipcars offer campus a new transportation option". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  16. ^ Paczkowski, John (2009-06-08). "WWDC 2009 Keynote LIVE: Zipcar, Pasco and Mr. Science!". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  17. ^ a b "Zipcar Launches in the City of Lakes; Minneapolis Becomes Zipcar's 21st Major Metro Market - May 15, 2013". 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  18. ^ a b "The connected car". The Economist. 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  From the print edition.
  19. ^ a b "Zipcar : Flexcar : Member Q&A". Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  20. ^ "Zipcar ... frequently asked questions". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  21. ^ Chesto, Jon (2011-01-08). "Zipcar’s late fees come under fire with consumer’s lawsuit in Boston federal court". Mass. Market blog. 
  22. ^ "Suit alleges Zipcar pulled fast ones with excessive fees". Boston Globe. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  23. ^ "Suit vs. Zipcar over fees is dismissed". Boston Globe. 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  24. ^ Elizabeth Olson (2010-11-22). "A Shift From Company Cars". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ "Zipcar Now Offers Campus Car Sharing With More Than 300 North American Colleges and Universities - Oct 9, 2012". 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  26. ^ "Avis Budget - Investor Relations". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  27. ^ "Zipcar and Flexcar Agree to Merge". Press Release. Flexcar. 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  28. ^ Johnson, Caroline Y. (2007-10-31). "Zipcar is expected to join with rival Flexcar". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  29. ^ "Zipcar Invests in Barcelona-Based Avancar". PR Newswire. 2009-12-18. 
  30. ^ Josie Garthwaite (2010-04-21). "Zipcar Snaps Up UK Car-sharing Network Streetcar". earth2tech Blog. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  31. ^ "Zipcar Extends Option with Barcelona-Based Avancar". PR Newswire. 2011-01-04. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ "What's the deal with insurance?". 
  36. ^ "Zipcar: Toronto, ON Terms and Conditions". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  37. ^ "Zipcar: Vancouver, BC Terms and Conditions". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  38. ^ "Zipcar FAQ: If I reserve a Zipcar in the US, can I drive out of state or in Canada?". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  39. ^ "Zipcar FAQ: If I reserve a Zipcar in Canada, can I drive in the US?". Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  40. ^ "Zipcar FAQ: If I reserve a Zipcar in the UK, can I drive it abroad?". Retrieved 2012-07-18. 

External links[edit]