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Use of Car-Sharing Programs Set for 550% Jump

New study predicts 12 mil will use services by 2020.

by on Sep.19, 2013

When they need a car, a growing number of Millennials are turning to carsharing services.

If you want to get a hint about the potential for car-sharing programs consider that Hertz, Avis and other traditional rent-a-car firms have purchased pioneers in the short-term rental market, such as ZipCar, over the last couple years.

And, apparently, such moves will be well rewarded, a new study predicting that the number of members subscribing to car-sharing services will surge by more than 550% before the end of this decade – from the current 2.3 million to more than 12 million.

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Global revenues are expected to grow even more rapidly, forecasts Navigant Research, jumping from an anticipated $1 billion this year to $6.2 billion in 2020.

Car-sharing services offer an alternative to the traditional vehicle rental approach by targeting those who might have need of a vehicle for as little as an hour, rather than those who want one for a day or more.  In most cases, customers access vehicles at unmanned lots or even at reserved, street-side parking spots.


Carsharing Could Become Big Business for Daimler, Says CEO

Mercedes’ parent sees global opportunity to supplement conventional car, truck sales.

by on Apr.12, 2013

A Smart car in Berlin, part of Daimler's car2go carsharing service.

After so-so sales during the first quarter, Daimler AG has deferred making any kind of prediction on its first quarter profits from its core automobile and truck business.

However, while Daimler declined to offer revised income and sales forecasts, CEO Dieter Zetsche did tout the success of the company’s fledgling carsharing service, which going forward will serve as the anchor for a new business unit that could bring in as much as $100 million in revenue next year.

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“We see great potential in the expansion of our business operations in the area of innovative mobility services,” Zetsche said. “The car2go (service) made us the world’s fastest-growing provider of carsharing services. In fact, the number of car2go customers has increased roughly fivefold since January 2012. Altogether we have more than 300,000 customers in 18 major cities in Europe and North America,” he noted this week.


Ford Sets Up European Carsharing Operation

Move could help offset slumping sales.

by on Mar.06, 2013

Ford and its German dealers set up a new nationwide carsharing service, Ford2Go.

A new survey indicates that 56% of the motorists queried in a half-dozen European countries would consider using a carsharing service rather owning a vehicle of their own – something that seems to reflect recent trends among younger buyers and a general malaise in the European automotive market.

So, if you’re struggling to grow your retail sales, Ford Motor Co. appears to have concluded, look for other options. And one of the solutions Ford has come up with is to set up its own carsharing service in Germany.

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Ford2Go is the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide carsharing program in Europe to incorporate traditional new car dealerships. Ford2Go was organized as a partnership among Ford of Germany, the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH, and DB Rent GmbH – the company behind Flinkster carsharing.


Car Theft Ring Forces Luxury Auto Rental Firm to Shut Down

HiGear let wannabes drive the cars of their dreams.

by on Jan.05, 2012

A Tesla listed for rent on the HiGear website.

The idea seemed to have enormous potential: give automotive wannabes the opportunity to drive the cars of their dreams.  Unfortunately for San Francisco-based start-up HiGear, the company also gave a bunch of car thieves to steal the cars of their dreams.

The company offered a distinctive twist on the growing car-sharing phenomenon.  While most of the other players in the emerging field, such as ZipCar, focus on basic transportation, HiGear went to the other extreme, lining up luxury and exotic models from the likes of Aston Martin, BMW, Bentley and even a Tesla.

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After going through a seemingly careful sign-up process members of the service would pay anywhere from $125 to $600 – with the average being $410 a day, according to company officials – plus insurance.  The vehicles they would rent were actually owned by individuals, including co-founder Murtaza Hussein’s BMW Z4, rather than company-owned.

Unfortunately for HiGear, a sophisticated car theft ring figured out how to game the system, using stolen identities and credit cards to line up rentals and then make off with four cars the company says were worth $400,000.


New Service Lets Enthusiasts Drive the Vehicles of Their Dreams

Owners can also benefit from carsharing service.

by on Oct.10, 2011

A new carsharing service lets you rent the car of your dreams - such as a Lamborghini Gallardo.

Have caviar tastes but a budget that can barely afford an omelet?  A new carsharing service aims to put the vehicle of your dreams within reach.

Dubbed HiGear, the San Francisco-based service is the latest twist on the carsharing concept, which is designed to let folks who don’t own or have access to a vehicle easily rent one for short periods of time at a relatively reasonable cost.

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While most such services focus on low-end vehicles, such as a Smart fortwo or other basic forms of transportation, HiGear lets its customers rent privately-owned luxury cars.  The fee is then split with the owner of the vehicle, helping subsidize their loan payments or maintenance costs, says the service’s founder.

“A lot of carsharing companies focus on people who need a car to go shopping,” explains Murtaza Hussein, the founder and president of HiGear.  “Our business model is for people who want to be in a car like an Aston Martin for their birthday or some other special occasion.”


GM’s OnStar Partnering with RelayRides to Promote Car Sharing

Want to rent out your car during business hours?

by on Oct.05, 2011

OnStar teams with RelayRides' carsharing service.

Sure, you’ve got a long commute, but the fact is that your car – and most others – sit around most of the day when they could be put to better use.  Or so is the theory behind RelayRides, which takes an offbeat approach to put cars to better use when they’d otherwise be sitting idle.

Teaming up with OnStar, RelayRides – which is backed by money from Google Ventures – provides an alternative to traditional car rental firms.  Someone who might need a car, say, to run a couple errands, could access a vehicle from someone living down the block or working in a nearby office.

The system is designed to make a short-term rental quick and easy — and even to give a user a wide range of vehicle choices.  Owners, meanwhile, could get a chunk of change that could be applied to their monthly car payment — or gas bill.

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As part of an exclusive relationship that will begin in early 2012, the car-sharing service will focus on GM vehicles equipped with OnStar.  That would seem to make sense because unlike many competing telematics systems, a vehicle with OnStar has a built-in data link that doesn’t depend on having the owner’s cellphone nearby.

An OnStar operator thus could unlock the door of a vehicle for an authorized RelayRides user.  Otherwise, someone participating in the car-sharing venture would have to install a special device in the vehicle to allow access.


Feds Launch Probe Into Rental Car Recall Delays

Investigation triggered by evidence some firms regularly delay repairs on defective vehicles.

by on Nov.22, 2010

Rental firm accused of delaying repairs on recalled vehicles if they're in demand.

Federal regulators want to know whether daily rent-a-car companies may be risking the lives of their customers by delaying repairs for known safety problems in order to keep potentially defective vehicles in circulation.

The investigation comes as several rental car firms defend their actions in court.  As first reported, last July, officials with Enterprise, Alamo and National have acknowledged in court delaying safety-related repairs, in one manager’s words, “when demand called.”

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But industry officials are denying such allegations and, if anything, are blaming automakers for failing to properly notify fleet managers of pending recalls.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new investigation is specifically examining how major rental car companies have handled 29 individual recalls ordered by Detroit’s Big Three automakers.  In all, those recalls involved 3 million vehicles sold to rental companies.