Car rental giant Avis announced Wednesday it will buy the car sharing company Zipcar for $500 million. Zipcar is the market leader in the fast growing “car sharing” industry, but they’re not the only contender.
Zipcar has strong presence in Seattle where dozens of cars are scattered at lots around town, ready for pick-up at a moment’s notice. Members are allowed to rent the car for as little as an hour and as much as four days.
More and more people are using programs like this get around.
“It's nice to pick it up when I need it and drop it off when I don't,” Linda Eaves said. Eaves recently moved to downtown Seattle and left her car behind in Auburn.
“We in the Northwest are really attached to our cars and I was a little hesitant,” she explained. Eaves says she’s know a believer in the “car sharing” concept.
“It's fun and I don't have to look for a parking spot that's what I really like,” she said.
Zipcar is just one of many players in this growing market. Alex LaChance works for a SideCar, a car sharing service that started in San Francisco.
“We connect riders with drivers in real time, we kind of think of it as spontaneous carpooling,” LaChance explained. SideCar launched its app in Seattle a few months ago.
It links people who need a ride with drivers willing to pick them up and drop them off, for a donation.
“If I'm out and I'm driving around and I've got some extra space in my car why not give a ride to somebody,” driver Brent Parrish explained.
“I think these collaborative consumption, sharing economies are the direction we're moving towards the future,” LaChance said.
Smart Cars have been popping up all over Seattle with the introduction of another car service called Car2go. Reps for the companies say the concept makes sense for those in urban settings who still want access to a car without the hassles that comes from owning.
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