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Saturday, November 11, 2006


As I reported last week, Zipcar car sharing is now a reality here in Ann Arbor. Being a serial early-adopter when it comes to things greenish, I signed up right away. The cost is $30 a year annual fee, plus $8 per hour for using a car (including insurance and gas, but not including Michigan sales tax, which adds another 48 cents per hour). As promised, reserving a car was simple on the web. On election day, I took a friend to lunch in a Zipcar Ford Escape (I'm not sure if sharing a small SUV is really green or not, but my friend wanted to see what the Escape was like).

This is the Escape. Zipcar gives the cars names--this one is "Eubanks."

The other car available at this location is a Toyota Matrix--"McGriff."

The "Zipcard" is used to unlock and lock the car--just place it over the reader in the windshield. Eubanks had all of 19 miles on it when I started driving it. When I returned it an hour later, placing the card over the reader one last time locked the doors and ended my session.

All Zipcars have XM Satellite Radio.

The closest cars are about a mile from my work and two miles from my house, making them substantially less convenient than my car in the garage. Most of them, however, are right on the bus lines, so they're not that hard to get to. I may discuss car sharing with a few of my neighbors--having one car in the neighborhood with Zipcar as backup would probably be enough for me to give up having my own car.

Once I was officially a member, I was able to see how many cars Zipcar has in large cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago. The coverage is quite impressive--within easy walking distance of a large percentage of the population. I don't know why anyone in one of these cities would choose owning a private vehicle, with all of the parking and insurance hassles, when Zipcar is available (and they've already got good public transit).