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Impact report shows car sharing’s significant social and environmental benefits

06 February 2019


Zipcar, a company that helped define the sharing economy, has released the findings of its 2018 Impact Report. For the first time, the report comprehensively captures key findings gathered over Zipcar’s eighteen years of mobility leadership. The findings, combined with objective third-party research, offer tangible evidence that car sharing continues to provide both members, and the cities they live in, with significant and distinct social and environmental benefits, at a time when new mobility offerings are on the rise. 

These benefits range from fewer personal cars on the road, to less congestion, cleaner air, and more land for people, housing and open space.

'As Zipcar enters its 19th year of operation as the world’s leading car-sharing network, we’re proud to share more about our sustainable business model and the cumulative impact of our work in more than 500 cities and towns,' said Tracey Zhen, Zipcar president. 'At a time when new mobility solutions are arriving in cities, it has never been more important to remind our stakeholders of our track record, depth of experience, and direct results in reducing personal car ownership. We will continue to play an essential role in solving modern mobility challenges.'

Some key evidence outlined in the report to substantiate car sharing’s essential role in transforming today’s cities includes:

  • Car sharing frees up space for other pressing urban uses
  • Zipcar’s 12,000 vehicle fleet means an estimated 156,000 fewer cars on city streets.
  • The average parking space occupies 200 square feet, 6 freeing up space for housing, green areas, office space and more.
  • Car sharing sheds personal vehicles and helps the environment
  • Every Zipcar on the road eliminates the need for up to 13 personally-owned vehicles. 
  • On average, every Zipcar serves 80 individual members. 
  • 54% of Zipsters report getting rid of a personal vehicle after joining Zipcar and 65% of Zipsters report not owning a car today. 
  • Car-sharing members reduce their CO2 footprint by up to 1,600 pounds per year. 

After joining, round-trip car-sharing members drive 40% fewer miles than they did previously (reducing emissions). 

Zipcar is key to a multimodal lifestyle that enables the right mode for the right trip

  • Data shows Zipsters rely on walking, biking and public transit for short trips, and turn to car sharing for longer, purpose-driven or recreational trips to out-of-town destinations
  • The average Ziptrip in North America is 47 miles
  • 62% of Ziptrips include two or more people3 (34% higher than the average U.S. vehicle occupancy provided by the U.S. Department of Energy).

Car sharing delivers distinct social benefits 

  • With access to a car, 25% of Zipsters feel safer on the streets or at home. 3
  • 42% now report being able to affordably reach critical destinations like school and work
  • 41% now say they have equitable access to transportation
  • 87% of Zipsters spend less money per month on transportation when compared to the U.S. monthly average

Zipcar’s 2018 Impact Report also speaks to the importance of collaborative public/private partnerships, and the increasing mobility needs of non-profits, which Zipcar’s Grant Program aims to address in its mission to enable simple, equitable, and responsible urban living. In 2018, Zipcar awarded more than $100,000 in driving credit to 36 local non-profit organisations in several key cities where it operates, enabling these organisations to better achieve their mission through access to Zipcar.

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