Zipcar is rolling out an experimental new variation on its membership car-share service. Testing is underway already in Boston on One>Way, a new Zipcar offering that will allow "Zipsters" to pick up and drop cars in different locations.
The cars? Honda Fits. Zipcar has made an exclusive deal with the Japanese carmaker to use only its economical five-seaters for the new service.
Zipcar, which began service in 2000, already offers its 850,000 members nationwide the chance to pick up cars for short-term, round-trip service. The $60 annual fee allows members to borrow a car for as little as $7.99 for half an hour -- but they have to bring the car back to where they started.
The new service will allow Zipsters -- for a fee not yet determined -- to pick up a car in one location, use a phone app to enter a destination and be given a guaranteed parking space on the other end, then drop the car at the end of their journey.
Zipsters don't pay for fuel on the traditional model and won't on the new one, which also won't include any parking fees.
"In the wheelhouse of transportation options, we’ve heard from our members that this is something they want to see," Zipcar President Kay Ceille said. "This is an alternative to car ownership for people who live in urban areas."
Zipcar already has an estimated 10,000 cars available for short-term rental in 27 metropolitan markets and on 350 college campuses.
Ceille said it's too early to determine how many markets will get the new service or which ones they will be. The company's hometown of Boston will be first.
Zipcar's fleet is already about 20% Honda, Ceille said, composed of Civics, CRVs, Fits and a few Accord plug-ins and Fit EVs. At the launch of One>Way, it will include about 100 Fits. So why the Fit?
"We were approached by Zipcar a couple of years ago, and we think the business opportunity is solid," said Steve Center, vice president of American's Honda's Environmental Business Development Office. "The Fit is big on the inside but small on the outside. The Zipsters are going to love it."