Zipping across Ann Arbor
Zipcar service offers affordable option to navigate across town
JOSH CHAMBERLAIN THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Dearborn and Miller, the names of two Zipcars in the parking lot at William and Main street in Ann Arbor.
Click, sign, register and zip! You’re off!
That’s essentially what the Zipcar program has offered the city of Ann Arbor and students of the University of Michigan.
Founded in 2000, Zipcar has provided Ann Arbor residents with an alternate route to navigate the city — without owning a car.
And it’s easy, even though the company doesn’t have an office in Ann Arbor. Prospective members apply online and Zipcar will do a quick driving-record check. After a few days, applicants will receive a “Zipcard” and be on their way.
“All Zipcars are self-service, and all have designated parking spots where they can be picked up and dropped off,” said Zipcar public relations specialist, Colleen McCormick. “The vehicles are available 24/7, and members can make reservations online, by phone or using our free iPhone app. Reservations can be made just minutes before, or up to a year in advance, and vehicles can be reserved by the hour, or up to four days.”
After being accepted into the program, members may choose to reserve cars from 30 different makes and models. Members are to choose the car they want, whether it is a Mini, BMW, SUV or even a pickup truck.
Zipcar rates start when members join at $50 annually, on top of a $25 application fee. When members drive, the rates change to $8 an hour on weekdays and $66 for the entire day. Weekend rates increase to $9 an hour and $72 for the entire day.
Gas and insurance is included with the Zipcar.
“I was a staff at UM,” said Kaiser Shen, 28, of Ann Arbor. “They offered discounted yearly memberships for employees of the university. I usually used Zipcars for weekly runs to the grocery store. Their customer service was quick and friendly.”
One special feature of the program is being able to reserve a car in just a matter of minutes from your iPhone or another Apple product. Members can reserve the car, honk the horn, lock and unlock the doors — all from their device, according to the company.
Zipcars are available in 14 metropolitan areas and on more than 225 college campuses in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, according to McCormick, adding that the company has more than 530,000 members.
To qualify, members must be at least 21 years old — unless they attend the University of Michigan, where they only need to be 18.
Ann Arbor was picked as a result of Zipcar expanding its college/university program, but the program was so popular among students that Zipcar decided to offer the program to all residents of Ann Arbor.
“We now have 24 vehicles on the campus of the University of Michigan,” said McCormick, “and eight vehicles in Ann Arbor. Both university and local community members have access to the combined 32 vehicles in the area.”
While the program has mainly been marketed to Michigan students and Ann Arbor residents, Zipcar has also begun offering a program called Zipcar for Business or Z4B. The program targets local companies around cities where Zipcars exist. As a bonus, companies with five or more drivers receive a discount on the membership rates, plus discounted driving Monday through Friday.
The program entered the Ann Arbor market in 2007, and the public reaction has been relatively good.
“Generally speaking, our members find Zipcar to be convenient, flexible, cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” McCormick said. “Car sharing is certainly growing in popularity, especially in urban areas and on college campuses.
“As the program continues to grow, we’ll certainly look at adding more vehicles to the program.