There is a place for both of these companies in the market, so a comparison like this is kind of like comparing chartered flights to Southwest. That's not to say the big nationals couldnt learn lessons from zipcar, like the audio jacks, reasonable insurance plans, etc.
Also, unrelated, Zipcar allows members who are under 25, which makes it much more expensive to rent a car from a traditional place like Enterprise. Being currently under 25, this is a massive benefit.
That said, I literally just drove the San Fran to Tahoe drive after visiting VC firms in the bay area 2 weeks ago. We did it in a National rented vehicle (granted it was carrying 7 people..) and our gas bill was only $90. And that was in a Toyota Sequoia, so I've got to assume a compact car would be something like $40-$50 (feel free to correct me). If you rented the car for $30/day (normal rental, not a Sequoia), then it would be way cheaper.
Rental $30*4 + $40 = $160
Zipcar $75*4 = $300
I mostly agree re: the 2 day statement.
* Claiming Enterprise locations are in bad parts of town may be true where you live. There's one a block from me, in a very nice part of town.
* Leaving out the fact that Zipcar requires an application to join (which takes days to process).
* Zipcar requires a $50 annual membership + $25 per family member
* A spotless driving record and that you've had your license for over 1 year.
* Enterprise is cheaper in many cases (always if you have your own insurance that covers a rental).
Zipcar seems like a cool little company, and I hope they destroy Enterprise. Right now they're a bit lame in a few areas.
I think it's a near-universal occurrence. Traditional car rentals are based on warehousing cars at airports and on low-cost land elsewhere. Car sharing is based on cars parked within walking distance.
Zipcar isn't really structured for trip rentals. It's for regular but infrequent secondary transportation. The membership, application, and cost make sense for that use case.
Enterprise - you call, make a reservation, get a car.
Zipcar - you've get a choice of 0 (zero) available cars within walking distance from your apartment.
That's how two first weekends of being a Zipcar member went for me. I cancelled my membership without ever seeing a Zipcar.
Not necessarily. It's possible for Enterprise to also run out of vehicles.
Also, some of the points in the article are plain wrong. I have rented from enterprise in AZ (Tucson) and CA (Mountain View) and both times the location was convenient plus they picked me up!
Regarding the Saturday/Sunday, Enterprise dealers closed on sunday run a 3 day promo in which you get a 50% off, In grad school I used to plan many trips during the weekend so I can save some bucks on the rental.
Also, the insurance rates are available on the site and if you cough up about $10/day you are off the hook for damage to the car.
I don't think Zipcar will kill Enterprise, though, because they really seem to compete for different groups of customers. Enterprise's bread and butter is replacement vehicles for people who are having their current cars repaired (probably for a couple days or a week), and they pretty much seem to have a lock on that market. Nearly every time I've needed a loaner from a garage or body shop, they've sent me to Enterprise.
While this may be true of WeCar, not all ZipCars are hyrids. At least not in my experience.
>> Enterprise: Despite the nice Japanese cars advertised on the website, most real-world cars stocked are cheap, lifeless Chevy Random Numbers
Does it really matter what make the rental is ? As long as it meets your space and other requirements, i dont give a shit if its japanese or korean or american.
>> Enterprise: You can only pick up and return cars during limited business hours, and they’re closed on Sundays.It’s therefore impossible to rent a car for only Saturday and Sunday, and if you’re arriving home from a trip later in the evening than the branch’s closing time (usually around 6 PM), you need to book the rental to include the entire following day.
That is so not true. Yes, their office is closed on sundays, so you cant pickup a rental. but you can drop off the rental (they have drop off box for keys).
>> Enterprise: Cars are kept in front of a sketchy office in a bad part of town.
Probably true for his city - but cant be generalized.
besides all these, the author never bothers to make any mention of the fact that Enterprise folks will come pick you up for your rental. at times, that is so much convenient.
Also, between most major credit cards and most car insurance covering rental damage, many people don't need to pay for the damage waiver.
I could see how Zipcar would be great if you live in an area where a car is optional, but Enterprise has been fine for my limited rental needs.
When I owned a car, and lived in the suburbs, Enterprise was great because I already had insurance coverage. When I needed to rent from them because my car was being repaired, they would come and pick me, which was great. In every location I've been too, the staff has been very friendly and helpful--it was no surprise to read that management practices at Enterprise had informed work on Net Promotor Scores.
Now that I live in a city, and do not own a car, ZipCar is fantastic. The annual insurance fee is less than a day's insurance cost at a traditional car rental company. I can get chores done in just a couple of hours, so renting by the hour is incredibly attractive, especially given the abundance available in my neighborhood. I would likely pass by over 20 different Zipcars on the 10 minute walk to the nearest Enterprise outlet. Zipcar employees are also incredibly friendly and proactively helpful on the phone.
Sometimes when companies have different policies and products, it's because they are targeting different segments of the market, not because one is better than the other.
One thing he didn't mention is that ZipCar is great for allowing multiple drivers. Any ZipCar member can drive any car, no matter who rented it.
That doesn't take into account whether or not you have your own insurance (e.g. if you already have a car). It also doesn't take into account taxes. IIRC, Multinomah County (the county where Portland, Oregon is) has a 15% tax on rental vehicles. This is on top of the Enterprise quoted price. I don't know if ZipCar works this into their costs, but I don't remember ever seeing this tax on an invoice from ZipCar.
I've had good experience from a customer service perspective with Enterprise, but from a cost perspective, not so much. I once rented a car for a day from them which was supposed to be ~$60. The final cost with insurance, taxes, etc was over $100. On the other hand -- as a ZipCar member -- I can rent a ZipCar for ~$69/day and that includes gas.
I was able to sign up for $25 (+ $10 for my wife) by signing up at the Portland Gay Pride 'celebration' (I would say 'Gay Pride Parade,' but it was at the tents after the parade). We've also been able to get free credits when we see their booths at other events (e.g. VegFest '09). I've also gotten free credits for calling them to tell them that I saw the lights were left on on one of their cars (I was at a bus stop that was near a ZipCar spot).
While I have no complaints about Enterprise customer service, I would say that ZipCar is the Zappos of car rental (though I may be wrong since I've never interacted with Zappos; I'm only guessing based on all the stories I hear).
Bottom line, the rental car tax was intended to tax tourists and Zipcar has been fighting against it because most Zipcar members are locals without a car. In some states the tax laws are such that Zipcar is forced to collect a fee every time you reserve a car.