Introducing the Zipcar Commuter Plan
Zipcar, the car sharing company, is introducing a new monthly subscription that gives members exclusive use of a car during the work week. Known as the Zipcar Commuter Plan, for $199/month plus $0.45/mile gets you a personal Zipcar from 5AM on Monday through 7PM on Friday. Although not yet publicly advertised, I found a working link here.
More and more Americans are giving up car ownership. Myself included. Living in a big city (Seattle), I have to deal with traffic and high costs of car ownership. A parking spot in my apartment building runs $250 per month. I gave up my car 4 years ago and haven’t looked back.
It helps to have memberships in car share services like Zipcar (owned by Avis), Car2Go (owned by Mercedes-Benz), and ReachNow (owned by BMW) in addition to ride share services like Uber and Lyft. When I need a car, I can get one.
This week I received an invitation to sign up for the Zipcar Commuter Plan.
Cost of the Zipcar Commuter Plan
The Zipcar Commuter Plan costs $199 per month (plus taxes — 17.8% in Seattle). On top of that, you pay $0.45 per mile that you drive during the work week. If your commute is 5 miles (one way), that is an additional $100 a month, assuming you aren’t driving it for any other purpose during the week.
Compare that to the standard Zipcar fee of $7.50+ per hour. Or $70+ for a 24 hour rental period. All of the standard rentals include 180 miles per day (whether your rental is an hour or 24 hours). It is an additional $0.45 per mile over the 180 mile limit.
What is included?
For the monthly cost plus the per mile fee you get the following:
- Exclusive use of your assigned Zipcar any time you need it Monday morning through Friday evening. The cars used for the Zipcar Commuter Plan are compact, efficient cars: Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla or something similar. Other members will be able to drive it on the weekends. If you want it on the weekend, you pay the normal Zipcar rates.
- A dedicated parking spot
- Weekly cleaning
Currently it looks like the Zipcar Commuter Plan is available in the following cities:
- New York City ($299/month)
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
- Toronto ($249 CAD/month)
Does it make sense?
First, it the Zipcar Commuter Plan only makes sense if you live by a Zipcar. This means you have to live in a somewhat dense/urban area. For example, there is a large part of Northeast Seattle that is not serviced by Zipcar.
Second, you have to be commuting to a place where you can find parking. You only get one dedicated spot (unlike Car2Go or ReachNow that can park for free even at metered street parking). If you work in downtown, you would have to pay for parking near your work place on top of the Zipcar monthly fee.
I suppose you could sign up to have a Zipcar that is parked near your place of work so you have a dedicated spot there. This would mean you would have to bus or Uber down to the work/the car on Monday morning, take it back to your home each evening, then drop it off on Friday and bus or Uber back home.
I work downtown and am able to walk to work. However, if I got a job in another part of the city with poor bus service, I could see the Zipcar Commuter Plan making sense for me rather than buying a car.
If I were to buy a car, I would likely be playing $200+ a month for the lease, plus $250 for a parking spot, plus gas, insurance, maintenance, taxes…. The $300-400 a month for the Zipcar Commuter Plan seems pretty reasonable.
Currently it seems like the Zipcar Commuter Plan is by invite only. I have reached out to Zipcar to see if it is possible to sign up if you weren’t targeted with the email invitation. I will update accordingly.
What do you think? Is the Zipcar Commuter Plan a good deal? Would it be cost effective for you?