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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Zip Around Minneapolis

Zip Around Minneapolis

The car-sharing network Zipcar announced this week that it is expanding its services to Minneapolis. With this launch, Minneapolis becomes the company’s 21st major metropolitan market. Forty vehicles located in convenient locations will give residents access to vehicles across the city, including Dinkytown, Loring Park, Northeast, North Loop, and Seven Corners. Each location will offer a mix of vehicle types, with individual names that are representative of the city. In Minneapolis, Zipcar members can reserve cars like the Ford Focus “Superior,” Mazda 3 “Mall,” Ford Escape “Goldy,” or even an Audi A3 “Justin” named after the Twin’s first baseman Justin Morneau, or the Audi A3 “Joe” named after Twins catcher Joe Mauer.

The Minneapolis service could actually be characterized as an expansion of sorts. Since 2005, Zipcar has offered car sharing for University of Minnesota students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding community. Nationwide, the car-sharing service has proven to be very popular for students, as the cost of car ownership is becoming more out of reach for recent grads. (Zipcar now operates near 300 college campuses throughout North America.)

Earlier this month, Zipcar conducted a survey of 2013 graduates and found that the demographic is a good one for sharing vehicles. Sixty-five percent of graduates do not own a car; 49 percent of graduates do not plan to bring a car with them on their next endeavor; and 70 percent showed interest in the company’s sharing services.

In time for summer travel, Zipcar recommends a few ways “Zipsters” (as the company likes to call their customers) can use the service, including a trip to Lake Minnetonka with fishing gear or golf clubs in a Ford Escape; a trip to Mall of America in the “Mall” Mazda 3; or a date night out to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in a Mercedes-Benz C300. The service seems fairly straightforward: become a member and then start using the service by searching online for a Zipcar located near you, or by the type of car you want to use. Zipcar hourly and daily rates include gas, reserved parking spots, insurance, and up to 180 miles of driving per day. Cars can be reserved for as short as an hour or for multiple dates. In Minneapolis, rates start at $8.75 per hour and $72 per day (24 hours).

A subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, Zipcar plans to continue to expand throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul in the coming year, including working with Minneapolis officials to establish more on-street parking spots. I haven’t tried the program in other cities, but it sounds like a convenient service for those who don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of owning a car when they might be able to get by with access to one on special occasions.

As of today, here's what they show for available car pick-up locations:

Posted on Thursday, May 16, 2013 in Permalink

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