Classic, round-trip carsharing operators have not failed to notice the rapid expansion of the one-way model in Europe and North America. In less than five years, Car2Go has more than 10,000 cars operating in 26 cities and recently reported that their base has grown to more than 500,000 customers and total trips taken exceeds 15 million. Communauto launched an all-electric fleet in Montreal and intends to build out to 250- 300 vehicles.
Dr. Scott Levine observed that one-way carsharing has been growing much faster than the classic, round trip service model in Europe and predicts that one-way will continue to expand at a faster rate in his 2012 paper Car Rental 2.0: Car Club Innovations and Why They Matter. In North America, many round-trip operators consider one-way as a complement to the classic model, allowing people to have more choices for transport modes depending on the type of trip. So until now, round-trip operators have been willing to let one-way operators expand their influence in the carsharing markets without viewing them as direct competition.
Avis Budget CEO Ronald Nelson said today that Zipcar will begin offering one-way service to its customers “in the near future”. It’s a good fit. Zipcar has the resources to introduce the large fleets that one-way carsharing requires and the ability to bear the financial burden of not breaking even for the months (and years?) required for city’s population to generate adequate demand for the fleet.
Most importantly, Zipcar is defending the brand as the biggest name in carsharing in North America.
We look forward to seeing the results.