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VOL. 132 | NO. 13 | Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Zipcar Expands Operations in Memphis With ‘Humility’

By Patrick Lantrip

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A Boston-based car-sharing company recently teamed up with officials at Christian Brothers University to give their students a little “Humility.”

The international car-sharing service Zipcar recently expanded its footprint in the Memphis area with the addition of a new location at Christian Brothers University.  

(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)

Humility, of course, refers to the gray four-door Ford Focus parked on CBU’s campus that students will be able to reserve for as little as an hour or for multiple days, through Zipcar, a car-sharing service billed as an alternative to both car ownership and traditional rental facilities.

“In Memphis, we are continuing to look at different areas, and hopefully we can continue with our expansion efforts,” Vilaire Lazard, Zipcar’s Southeast area general manager said. “Once the students know what the service is and what the benefits are, it’s something that sells itself.”

Humility will now join eight other Zipcars at four other locations in Memphis, which include Memphis International Airport, Rhodes College, the Downtown Memphis Commission and First Congregational Church.

Zipcar, which was founded in 2000, broke into the Memphis market in 2013 with just four cars, but has since expanded to 23 cars and 1,400 members statewide.

Signing up for the service is as simple as joining, reserving and driving, Lazard said.

Once the Zipcar app is downloaded members only need a driver’s licenses, a credit or debit card and a selfie.

“From the time you download the app to the time that you are approved, it’s pretty much a three- to four-minute process,” Lazard said.

From that point members will be able to choose from several packages that include varying monthly and driving rates depending on how much they plan on using the service, and will have access to the company’s fleet of more than 12,000 cars worldwide.

“With our success and our continued expansion efforts, it just says that opportunities for cities to become more sustainable are out there,” Lazard said.

“It just says that opportunities for cities to become more sustainable are out there.”

–Vilaire Lazard

Southeast area general manager

However, the car-sharing service is not just for students.

Suzanne Carlson, transportation and mobility project manager at Innovate Memphis, works with Zipcar through their Commute Options initiative, which works with employers to encourage alternative transportation choices that will improve economic and public health.

One of the ways Carlson’s organization helps employers identify alternative transportation options is to survey employees about how they get to work and any possible roadblocks they might have when it comes to commuting.

“One thing that we’re finding in a lot surveys is that people need their car during the workday,” Carlson said. “They either need it for work purposes or they might need it to run an errand or they don’t have lunch nearby, so they might just like the comfort of a vehicle, so we are working with Zipcar to expand their cars in Memphis.”

Programs like Zipcar may help alleviate some of the transportation woes business travelers and professionals face in areas where parking is at a premium, Carlson said.

“I have a membership card that unlocks the car,” Carlson said. “From my office, there are cars on South Main at Huling, so I can reserve one of those, walk over there, take the car and then check it back in at the same location.”

As for the name Humility, Lazard said Zipcar just wants to make the driving experience as personal as possible. For example, Zipcar recently launched several new cars in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and named one of the cars after the city’s mayor.

“Because Memphis is a really good city and a lot of people out there are very humble,” Lazard, who is based out of Atlanta, said. “We thought, ‘Hey, let’s name the car Humility.’”

Humility now takes her rightful place alongside Velveeta, Jerrod, Mellow, Cappetta and the other Memphis Zipcars.

“This is a service for the community, and depending on the community, if they want us to choose some names, as long as no other vehicle in our system has that name, we’re more than happy to accommodate them,” Lazard said.

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