Zipcar is partnering with Knox College to bring two cars to campus after UhaulCarShare decided not to renew their contract and pulled their cars.
Debbie Steinberg, Director of Sustainability, knew the UhaulCarShare cars would be missed and began looking for a new car sharing company to partner with. She jumped at the opportunity to partner with Zipcar, a nationally known company.
Zipcar is a member based car sharing company. They charge a $15 annual membership fee to students. Once students sign up, they can rent cars for hourly rates ranging from $7.50 to $10.50, daily rates ranging from $69 to $83 and a $36 nightly rate.
Knox will get two cars to replace the UhaulCarShare cars. Steinberg expects the Zipcars to be put to good use, but getting the launch and implementation process started has proven to be a problem.
Zipcar uses a 12 week launch and implementation process involving an ad campaign and events. Steinberg had to explain to Zipcar representatives how the Knox trimester system works, and one of the UhaulCarShare cars wasn’t removed from its parking space until October.
It didn’t make sense to Steinberg to have the launch and implementation process at the end of fall term or during winter term. Steinberg plans to send the cars back to Zipcar during the summer, so it didn’t make sense to start the implementation process during spring term either.
Steinberg and Zipcar plan to start the launch and implementation process during the summer so the cars will be ready for use when students return to campus for the fall term of 2020.
Since Knox is such a small market, Steinberg got approval to promise the Zipcars would be used 25 percent of the time. If they don’t meet that 25 percent, Steinberg said funds for whatever is left will be pulled from the sustainability fund to make up for the lost revenue.
Lydia Allen, senior, was surprised to hear that funds would be pulled from sustainability to pay for the cars if they aren’t used for the full 25 percent of the time. Allen had used the UhaulCarShare a handful of times in her freshman and sophomore years. She raised concerns that the cars may not be used.
“I don’t think I really used it for practical things,” Allen said. “If I needed to go to Walmart or something, I would just ask someone to drive me.”
Steinberg said she made the decision to commit any necessary sustainability funds to time that Zipcars were not used in conjunction with the Senate sustainability committee. She said the students asked around to see if the UhaulCarShare cars were used, and the students found friends who had used them but had never used them themselves.
This was another point of concern for Allen, who couldn’t think of anyone she knew who had used the cars.
“There should have been a more systematic survey,” Allen said.
Steinberg thinks UhaulCarShare usage fell off in the last few years due to a lack of advertisement. She believes that in partnership with Zipcar and with better advertisement, the cars will be a useful resource to students who don’t own cars.