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Ford Teaming up with Zipcar

Partnership targets potential buyers on college campuses.

by on Aug.31, 2011

Ford Chairman Bill Ford and Zipcar Chairman Scott Griffith with a Zipcar Ford Focus.

Ford Motor Co. is teaming up with car-share service Zipcar to put 1,000 Ford vehicles onto college campuses across the U.S.

The Zipcar service is designed to offer easy access for those who need a car for brief periods – such as commuters or college students who might need to run quick errands.

The company already has partnerships with a number of other manufacturers and is also pioneering the use of electric vehicles.  There are more than 600,000 registered users who already have access to a fleet of 9,000 vehicles. But the alliance with Ford will become Zipcar’s biggest partnership yet.

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Initially, Zipcar will field 650 Fords, including the Focus compact and the Escape crossover.  Ultimately, as many as 1,000 Ford will go into service during the two-year pilot.  The Detroit maker is sponsoring a special reduced-rate program for students – and sees the alliance as a way to reach young buyers who traditionally haven’t had Ford on their radar, says CEO Bill Ford, Jr.

“Today’s students are thinking differently about driving and transportation than they have in the past,” he says, adding that, “This program enables today’s new drivers to experience our latest fuel-efficient vehicles, while helping them reduce their cost of living and help relieve congestion on campus. We’re looking forward to making Ford a staple of their college experience.”

Zipcar officials, in turn, believe that Ford’s focus on high-tech features, such as its voice-activated Sync infotainment system, will draw more attention – and users – to the rental service.

“We’re targeting a generation that only knows how to buy music by the song so paying for a car by the hour is a natural for them. Students are smart consumers who appreciate Zipcar’s ‘Wheels when you want them’ approach,” says Scott Griffith, Zipcar’s chairman and CEO. “We believe this alliance will drive home the value of using Zipcar and the fun of driving a Ford when students need a ride. With reduced membership fees and hourly rates sponsored by Ford, they can save even more money on sustainable transportation, without sacrificing the freedom – and fun – of having a car on campus.”

Zipcar currently makes vehicles available on 250 college campuses across the U.S., including Harvard, Yale, the University of Michigan and the University of California – Berkeley.

The service currently offers 30 different makes and models to its members but Ford is hoping to get a disproportionate share of that business.  It will sponsor a $10 discount on the normal $35 application for up to 100,000 university students.  They will also get a $1 an hour break on the rental price when using one of the Ford vehicles.

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