Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Texas at Austin will be able to rent one of eight ZipCar vehicles positioned throughout campus starting in mid-January. ZipCar is a private company that rents full sized cars on an hourly basis.
ZipCar will be competing with Car2Go, which rents tiny smart cars. Car2Go was only available to city workers for a year under a pilot program. It now offers car rentals to everyone in the city.
"We offer two very unique, different products," ZipCar vice president Matthew Malloy told KUT News. "In many cases you take a Car2Go car to go from point A to point B, so you're actually leaving the vehicles in different parts around the city."
"ZipCar is different in that it's a point A to point B back to point A. It comes with its own driveway, its own home, and you bring the cars back to where they live," Malloy said. You can find out more information on how ZipCar works on their website. Here's the Car2Go information, for comparison.
Malloy says ZipCar is already in place at more than 200 universities across the United States. He says they'll begin by placing eight vehicles across the UT campus. The number of vehicles could grow if the program is successful, but Malloy wouldn't say how many cars that could mean in a year from now.
The City of Austin, meanwhile, is continuing its car sharing contract with Car2Go on a month-to-month basis. The city is putting together a request for proposals for a citywide car share franchise. ZipCar's Malloy says his company is interested, meaning ZipCar services could soon be available to everyone in the city, much like they are in other markets such as New York City and Boston.
A memo issued last month by Austin's Transportation Department says more than 1,300 city employees signed up to become members of the Car2Go pilot program, with 400 active users.
The city's Parking & Enterprising Manager, Steve Grassfield, told KXAN that his department is looking at other cities before they put out an RFP.
“We need to have all our ducks in a row before we go out and get requests for proposals. We could have multiple companies offer car share models.”