The city of Charlotte is planning to launch a two-year car-share pilot program this summer with Boston-based Zipcar.
The pilot program will include 12 designated Zipcar spaces in uptown and South End. The city will provide six on-street spaces, and Zipcar will provide six others off-street.
The pilot program will operate at no cost to the city.
Car-sharing services are becoming more popular these days, with active operations in more than 400 North American cities, according to a city of Charlotte presentation.
Unlike traditional car rental companies, Zipcar lets users take out a car by the hour, making it easier for people to go without a car. It’s also quicker to rent the car on short-term notice.
Through the Zipcar service, potential users go through five steps: create a Zipcar account, reserve a car, unlock it with an issued Zipcard or with the app, drive and return the car to its original spot.
The cost for the average user is approximately $12 an hour plus an annual membership fee. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for registered students 18 and up, and for non-students 21 and up. Users have to be pre-approved.
The user is allocated 180 miles of driving a day. The hourly fees pay for gas as well as insurance.
Zipcar provides its service to more than one million members, with over 12,000 vehicles in more than 500 cities and towns worldwide.
The company was founded in 2000 and was bought by Avis Budget Group in 2013 for $500 million.
The founders of Zipcar were inspired by car sharing already in place in Europe. A future where car-sharing members outnumber car owners in major cities is the organization’s ultimate goal.
Studies show, in services implemented in Minneapolis, that car sharing reduces personal vehicle use and increases public transit use as well as walking and biking, according to the city presentation.
A study conducted by the Transportation Research Board and the National Academy of Sciences found that the implementation of one shared car removes approximately 13 cars from the road.
Zipcar already has a small presence in Charlotte with one spot at Element Uptown apartments, one spot at UNC Charlotte and with service at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The company also recently launched at Davidson College as well.