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Zip It


The gas pump torture of watching numbers roll swiftly higher is increasingly unbearable. Especially for the nostalgiac US resident who lucidly remembers the days of the $1 and $2 gallon. As energy prices increase and permeate every aspect of our lives, our lives change in step with it. Necessity begs for alternatives, and new solutions appear. Solutions like the zipcar.


Inspired by a European model, Zipcar is the largest car sharing community on Earth. Think of it as the mp3 of the car industry. A sensible alternative to car ownership and operation that snugly fits into the environmental ethos of the age, and eases consumers’ sticker shock at the pump.


Its stated mission to provide “reliable and convenient access to on-demand transportation, complementing other means of mobility”, hints at the importance of environmental mindfulness and responsibility while not directly threatening the industry that spawned it. Zipcar estimates that for every one of its cars on the road, 15 individual vehicles are taken off it.


Overall, over 50,000 cars have permanently left the road. This results in less congestion on the roadways and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Older cars are replaced with new Zipcars that have more stringent pollution controls, while preserving green space because fewer parking spaces are required to meet the needs of the same number of people.


Also, emboldened by the intoxicating pleasure of increased financial freedom and eco-consciousness that Zipcar offers, over 40% of community members choose not to buy another car or sell the what they already own. As Zipsters multiply, so do the benefits, in exponential fashion.


Zipsters abound in such cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and even have a University presence in that mecca of car adoration, Los Angeles. They tend to describe the whole process as inexpensive, practical and easy, although it is not without its critics. Customer service is notoriously slow.


Although Zipcar predates the rising energy costs that are increasingly becoming the sign of the times, it offers a refreshing solution for those everyday citizens affected by it. Not surprisingly, the company’s success has not gone without notice. Copycat competition from industry newcomers and traditional car rental companies is expected. AER

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