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Car sharing business grows despite recession

Posted by: Adam Aston on October 28, 2009

It might have seemed that $4 gas finally broke US consumers of their SUV habit. But the Great Recession is proving that the shift has lasted through this period of lower gas prices. There are signs that a permanent shift is underway in the way US drivers related to the cost and value of transportation. Consider car sharing. When I checked in with Zipcar in summer 2008, growth at the leading national car share service was being fueled by high-cost gas. Since then, though, Ken Belson in the NY Times reports that even with lower gas prices Zipcar has continued to expand membership steadily, as have national rivals such as Enterprise and Connect by Hertz, as well as smaller regional chains such as WeCar. In the past year, membership at Zipcar has surged by 30%, with revenue up by 25%, Belson reports. Nationwide, the car share market is expected to grow to 2 million drivers by 2013.

Reader Comments

Jonathan Teller-Elsberg

November 2, 2009 4:47 PM

Adam, I sure hope you are right but it seems a bit premature to be using terms like "permanent shift." Low gas prices are one thing; low gas prices matched to the highest unemployment in a generation (and the uncertainty that accompanies that even for the employed) as well as to a credit squeeze that makes buying a new car more difficult for some goodly non-zero fraction of the population... well, that's quite another thing.

Also, there could be some coincidental timing going on--a situation of the car sharing "industry" coming into a level of maturing, where enough early adopters had done their adopting, and so the idea has penetrated far enough for the 2nd and larger generation of customers to come on board, even regardless of outside factors like gas prices or economic conditions.


November 3, 2009 11:28 AM

i think someone is abig freaken fibber......

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