Zipcar, the rent-by-the-hour car sharing service of choice for broke urban Millennials, has one hugely glaring and annoying flaw: after you check out a Zipcar, you have to put it back where you found it. Now they're about to unveil a new program that will fix that.
Later this year in Boston, Zipcar will launch the slightly annoyingly named Zipcar ONE>WAY program, which lets you check out a Honda Fit at one designated location and drop it off at another one with a guaranteed parking space.
At the moment, when you check out a Zipcar, you have to bring it back to the same lot where you picked it up within the time frame you reserved the car. If you bring it back late, you incur a $50 late fee, which can make short errands potentially very expensive if you run into traffic and can't get back to the return lot on time.
With this program, Zipcar takes direct aim at Car2Go, which lets you pick up a car and drop it any designated space whenever you want. It's also better than Car2Go in the sense that you get to drive a 2015 Honda Fit instead of a Smart Fortwo. Everything, including getting herpes, is preferable to driving a Smart Fortwo.
I think it's a good move on Zipcar's part. After moving from Texas to D.C., I used Zipcar for a couple months before buying my Cooper S, and the late fees were easily the most frustrating part of an otherwise clever and convenient program. If you returned even a few minutes late because you got stuck in traffic — we get a little bit of that here in D.C. — you were hit with a late fee, and those alone made the program not really worth keeping. On top of the hourly and annual fees, Zipcar really starts to get pricey if you use it all the time.
It's possible they may still have late fees with ONE>WAY, but presumably a one-way trip will eliminate the need for those.
AutoblogGreen reports that Zipcar is still figuring out the rates and roll-out schedule for ONE>WAY. If it works out, I hope for the sake of Zipcar users everywhere that they decide to switch to this model entirely.