Zipcar adds two cars to share in the University of Tennessee area – Knoxville News Sentinel

Posted: Friday, November 27, 2015

Car-sharing options in the University of Tennessee area just got a boost with the addition of “Vegas” and “Hoyt” to a parking lot at The Commons at Knoxville student apartments.

Vegas is the name of a Nissan Versa, Hoyt is a Ford Focus, and they are the latest vehicles car-sharing service Zipcar offers in Knoxville. The cars are available for rent and are kept in designated spaces at the apartment complex at 1640 Grand Ave.

Zipcar has other vehicles available in the UT and downtown areas. These include “Fluffy,” a Volkswagen Golf at 20th Street and Andy Holt Avenue, and “Aggie,” a Ford Focus on the Gay Street viaduct.

The Zipcar additions add to the options for people in Knoxville who want to get around without owning a car, said Christi Wampler, Smart Trips Coordinator with the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

“We are a big proponent of Zipcar, especially for UT,” she said. “It provides a great service for the kids who are trying to go without a car and for people who want to avoid the cost of parking.”

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Zipcar entered the Knoxville market in 2013. For a membership fee and at various rates, starting at $7.50 an hour or $69 a day, users can reserve cars online and pick them up at various locations, using an ID card to unlock the vehicle.

Smart Trips, which is a program that promotes alternatives to people driving alone, worked with Zipcar to get its service established in Knoxville, Wampler said.

Another option for those who wish to go without a car is Uber, a ride-sharing service that launched in Knoxville in 2014, The San Francisco-based company uses a mobile app to allow people needing a ride to connect with car owners who agree to ferry passengers for a fee.

Smart Trips advocates for companies like Zipcar and Uber, plus bicycling, walking, carpooling, mass transit and other methods to help limit the number of cars on the road. The program encourages people to use these alternatives, and links them up online with carpooling options. People can log information about their “smart commutes” and get chances to win prizes.

According to Smart Trips, transportation is the second-largest budget item for most households, and most people who own a car work one entire day each week just to pay for it. The average vehicle commuter spends $10,000 annually to maintain a car, according to Smart Trips.

Transportation cost is generally a big concern for college students, and one question is whether a nontraditional rental company like Zipcar is a better deal than a traditional rental company. In 2014, Consumer Reports did a head-to-head comparison of Zipcar versus Hertz, and found Hertz to be the better deal overall, but determined that Zipcar had a definite advantage for short trips.

For its test, Consumer Reports rented a sample Toyota Corolla from Zipcar and a Corolla from Hertz. Each was rented for 90 minutes, and Consumer Reports found the total cost to be $19 with Zipcar and $36 with Hertz.

However, a one-day rental of the car from Zipcar cost $97, compared with $36 for Hertz, and a weeklong rental cost $636 with Zipcar and $182 with Hertz.


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