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Architects load an architectural model into a car

Car sharing is a hassle-free way for small businesses to get their hands on a car (or van) when they need it, even it’s just for a couple of hour 


CAR sharing: is it for you and your small or SME-sized business?

A little radical maybe?

But then small businesses have always been swift on their feet and able to adapt to new ideas quickly.

Car sharing is certainly quirky, but now it’s part of the new thinking

Car sharing, car clubs – they are based on the premise of acquiring mobility by joining up and then using a vehicle on a pay-on-use basis.

And Zipcar reckons now is the time for more SMEs to catch the car sharing bug.

It is, I have to say, something I’ve heard before – not least from Zipcar.

Andrew Edgar, who is director of business in the UK – and responsible for Zipcar’s SME fleet strategy – acknowledges there might have been a few false dawns, but believes now the time is more propitious.

Andrew Edgar Zipcar

Zipcar’s Andrew Edgar: “We bought Streetcar and now we’ve been bought by Avis – so [we’re] here to stay”

“In terms of the past three years the climate has changed, and organisations in all sectors are more ruthless at looking at their costs base – that’s from the public sector right down to start-ups.

“In the same way that shared office spaces were new and slightly odd, and are now quite normal, so I think it’s a reflection of other trends that car sharing is becoming more accepted.

“It’s also part of a growing network – we bought Streetcar and now we have been bought by Avis – so it’s here to stay.

“Car sharing is certainly quirky, but now it’s part of the new thinking. But it’s also part of an organisation – Avis – that has proof of delivery.”


Zipcar Golf

New Zipcar options include the Mk7 Golf and the VW Up!

Expanded Zipcar fleet

Recently Zipcar expanded the cars on its fleet. It added the new VW Golf Mk7, the city car VW Up! and the Vauxhall Corsa – click here for the business car news story Zipcar adds business friendly cars to pay-as-you-drive range.

Gone are the MINIs and BMW 1 Series that were once central to the Zipcar fleet; now it’s moved to a more VW-centric fleet, including the availability of Audis.

There  are 1500 cars and vans available – up from 1350 in 2012. But as Andrew notes, it’s not just the cars – there’s a better network with more access to the vehicles. And the range of vehicles available.

Zipcar van sharing

And there are vans too

“We’ve increased the number of vans and brought in some smaller vehicles, such as the Corsa and Up! at the city hop end occasions. So from a van to an MPV to a Golf to an Up! we’re being more relevant to more people all of the time,” says Andrew.


Why should Zipcar appeal to SMEs?

Andrew reckons it takes a trip in a Zipcar to appreciate the benefits of the service.

“It’s the ease of service and use, the technology platform including the mobile app, which is particularly appealing for small businesses on the move as a lot, and the lack of intense account management,” says Andrew.

“Booking one of our cars is like booking a meeting room – it’s so simple”

The other great appeal says Andrew is the ability to nail costs. “All businesses are keen to avoid fixed costs.

“It’s in line with the economy. It helps new start ups keep costs low – while for established SMEs it allows them to flex costs against income.

Zipcar reservations app

Sharing differs from rental in the proximity of the cars, the lead time to hire, and reduced form filling

“For example if you need five cars on one day you buy those cars for the day – rather than having five leased cars as a standing cost all the time.”

It’s a persuasive argument. Small businesses also save themselves any hassle over company car tax for employees and National Insurance payments. The costs can also be set against taxable profits – and all the VAT can be reclaimed as use is entirely for business.

In many ways, car sharing is similar to daily rental – but, as Andrew points out, it remains a quite different proposition.

“Zipcar betters daily rental because of the proximity of the cars, the lead time to hire and finish of the hire and the ease and convenience,” explains Andrew.

“There’s much less form filling and you only pay for the time you use the car.”

Looking forward, Andrew believes Zipcar will expand by 10% fuelled by the small business growth thanks to the introduction of more vans, the ability to fit into people’s travel needs as part of a journey – perhaps from a train station – and greater acceptance of the car sharing idea.

In addition, Zipcar is also expanding to London’s airports, starting with City Airport – click to read our business car news story Zipcar expands car sharing into City Airport.

But above all else, it’s the savings that can be made by using the service. “Businesses can save over £3000 a year on vehicle costs by using Zipcar,” reckons Andrew. With the constant focus on taking cost out of the business, that’s a saving worth considering for any small business.

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