I recently spent some time in Portland for a friend’s wedding. A big group of us went and we needed to rent a couple of cars. After talking about how expensive the car was to rent, it was suggested by a listener that we should do a podcast about car sharing. Well – here is that podcast.
Car sharing is all over the place in Minneapolis, but I’ve never gotten close enough to using a car share to actually look into how they work or what they cost. I decided to take a quick peek into 3 local options in Minneapolis: Car2Go, ZipCar, and HourCar. ZipCar and Car2Go are likely available in your area too if you live in a metropolitan area – check out their websites to see full availability.
All 3 companies do things a little differently, but the basic premise is the same. You don’t have a car, but you need one, sometimes with zero notice. Car2Go allows you to check your phone to see if any cars are available near you. If you are lucky enough to be close to one, just walk up to it, swipe your Car2GoPass, and you are off. ZipCar and HourCar have convenient fixed pick-up locations around town. Reserve one, and pick it up from one of those locations.
When you are finished, leave your Car2Go in a valid parking spot (no need to return it to where you got it!), or return your ZipCar/HourCar back to the location you picked it up from. Pretty simple stuff.
The Main factor that differentiates these 3 companies is the pricing structure. ZipCar and HourCar have monthly/annual subscription models, and then charge around 8 bucks an hour or so while you are driving their vehicles. Car2Go has a 38 cents per minute price that makes it really attractive for shorter trips, but also has hourly and daily rates if you need it longer. 2 plans cost money to join – 35 bucks for Car2Go and 25 bucks for ZipCar. I couldn’t find an initiation fee for HourCar, so I can’t confirm if it is free or not (I doubt it).
Comparing the per minute/hour/mile/day pricing can be a bit of a hassle, I go into all the details in this episode. Zach Shaner from the Seattle Transit Blog also did some similar research last summer and published a cool chart to help visualize some of the comparisons between Car2Go and ZipCar. As you can see, with a cheap per minute rate but a more expensive per hour rate – Car2Go is a great deal for very short trips (< 25 minutes). If you are using one quite often and use it for more than 25 minutes or so, you may want to look into one of the monthly plans from ZipCar or HourCar.
Check out the detailed pricing structures at their websites!