Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Zipcars for the Masses

By-the-hour car rental firm unveils huge expansion, adding 29 vehicles to Milwaukee with possibly more to come.

By - Aug 27th, 2013 03:45 pm
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Just a year ago, Zipcar’s only presence in Milwaukee was through university-sponsored vehicles located on campus. In May of this year the car-sharing company added its first non-sponsored vehicles near the intersection of N. Farwell Ave and E. North Ave in a city-owned parking lot. Then earlier this week, my colleague Dave Reid noticed that a few more spots were installed on Clybourn and Michigan.

Dave, like the Titantic, had only seen the tip of the iceberg. The by-the-hour car sharing firm has begun deploying 29 new vehicles to locations across Downtown. The Milwaukee fleet will grow to 40 vehicles, with a source indicating that a lot more cars are on their way long-term.

Basic membership to Zipcar costs $60/year, with cars available for $8.75/hour (discounts available starting at 6 hours a month). Included with every rental is gas, insurance, and up to 180 free miles. The company was founded in 2000, with a initial public offering on NASDAQ in 2011, only to be acquired by Avis in March of this year for $500 million.

The large deployment of vehicles is a positive reflection on the growth of Milwaukee’s urban core. Car-free living is a legitimate option for a growing swath of the city, and services like Zipcar (plus MCTS and taxicabs) fill in the gaps for those that desire the occasional trip to Target, Costco, or their far-flung suburban relatives. The fact that Milwaukee is a terrible town for taxis and has a declining mass transit system also makes this a good market for these cars. Zipcar has been repeatedly coy about their usage rates, but suffice it to say they wouldn’t be making this investment (including renting parking spaces) if they didn’t believe the vehicles would be heavily used by Milwaukeeans.

As a car-free, former Zipcar member who cancelled his service because of the lack of cars and their availability (those darn college kids were always using them) as well as a low personal need, this expansion is most welcome. Their investment will net them at least one new subscriber.

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5 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Zipcars for the Masses”

  1. harvey rabinowitz says:

    zipcars were in Portland OR. 10 years ago.
    the question one should ask is why did it take so long to get to Milwaukee.

    or is this an indicator that we really are 10 years behind.

  2. Tim says:

    Great constructive comment harvey! Did you ever think a mentality like yours is the problem?

  3. Faith says:

    Harvey, really? Who cares? What’s the point in criticizing Milwaukee making strides? I guess we’ll be criticized if we make forward progression or if we don’t, huh? How about us all celebrating a small victory like this? Yourway of thinking is toxic.

  4. don natzke says:

    Approximately 2 years ago I encouraged Zip Car to consider adding 3 accessible minivans to the fleet. This would provide a potent option for families with members with disabilities and would also be available to people not requiring this feature. This would be of great benefit to people without the means, or need, for a private ramp equipped vehicle. I would welcome other voices joined with mine to encourage this idea.

  5. Andy Haugh says:

    So I’m a zipcar member, and happy about them adding cars. But isn’t it odd that they hold a press conference at their new spots….right outside a bar? For what it’s worth, the company requires drivers to have a clean record. And a DUI would revoke your membership. I can just see it though…someone will be getting out of the bar and see their zipcar sitting unused and pull out their phone to sign it out.

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