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East Bay Hourly Car Rental Market Heats Up With Avis Purchase of Zipcar

Which short-term car rental service is the best in the East Bay?

Avis' purchase of Zipcar, which was announced Wednesday, pits the company against national players like Hertz On Demand and regional players like City CarShare.

Zipcar, which offers hourly rentals, has cars at several East Bay locations: in Emeryville, Berkeley, Concord-Walnut Creek and Oakland. City CarShare has vehicles in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Fremont and Oakland.

Hertz has just two short-term rental locations in the Bay Area, one in San Francisco, the other at St. Mary's College.

Competition also is growing with peer-to-peer rental services, such as Wheelz.

If you use hourly car rental services, what experiences have you had? Do you prefer one service better than the others?

robert cooke January 02, 2013 at 09:15 PM
this is a half ass article....barely more than a caption. How about some useful info....comparisons etc
Thierry Cornet January 04, 2013 at 02:29 AM
Agreed; no journalistic standards...
paul1 January 04, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Looks like the Patch is now not only posting PR pieces for companies as if they're articles, but is actively doing surveys for the target companies! I think it's time to unsubscribe from the Albany Advertiser I mean Albany Patch...
Ari Soglin (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Robert, to your point, no we didn't do any analysis for this article. Our goal was to get some discussion going with people who use some short-term rental services. Sorry we weren't able to offer what you were looking for. That said, over the last six months, I've been a frequent user of Zipcar and an occasional user of City CarShare. I also have been doing daily local rentals almost every week from a traditional car rental service, Hertz. What I can report is based only on my experience, but it may be of value to some readers (split into two posts because of the per-comment character limit): If you only need a car for a couple hours, Zipcar and City CarShare are good options. They each charge an hourly rate. Zipcar's rate is higher, but City CarShare adds a per mile charge. Both services cover gas costs. Short-term, short distance driving: City CarShare may have a slight edge. Short-term, longer distance driving: Zipcar may be better. For use longer than three or four hours, it's worth checking with a traditional car rental agency. I've been using a local Hertz shop. Hertz has a $14.99/day weekend rate for economy cars that kills anything I can get with the hourly rental services. Not even close. On weekdays, the break point tends to be around three or four hours. I usually get a rate between $35 and $45 a day from Hertz on weekdays, though I've paid more than that and less. (continued below)
Ari Soglin (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 09:02 PM
(continued from above) That's one of the differences: Zipcar and City CarShare don't change their rates daily as traditional rental agencies do. Availability and convenience: I sometimes can't get a car from Zipcar or City CarShare from their closest car pods. If I'm willing to travel a little further, I usually can find one. Hertz always has vehicles, though prices go up at busiest times. Car rental agencies don't have as many car pickup locations as the hourly services, so convenience may depend on how close you are. They will come pick you up though. Timing: Zipcar and City CarShare are great for getting a car on short notice. I just use a mobile app, reserve the car and go pick it up. I can do the same with Hertz, but can only pick up a car during hours the car rental agency is open. Fuel: I hate the game traditional rental agencies play. Either bring back the car with a full tank or pay a jacked-up fee. I rented from Enterprise once and they gave me a half tank. Try returning a car with half a tank of gas. Too much guest work. I ended up returning the car with three-fourths of a tank. The Enterprise folks were nice and gave me credit for the extra gas, but that's not their typical policy.
Tom Zhang January 05, 2013 at 07:45 PM
I agree. How about telling us the benefit of the hourly rental?
Tim Rood January 06, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Here's my experience as a would-be peer-to peer vehicle owner. I have a low-mileage 1991 pickup truck I rarely use. I'd love to rent it out by the hour to prescreened, responsible renters and make some extra cash. Wheelz and Getaround both provide the cool gizmo to allow you to unlock your car for a renter via smartphone, but their insurance policy won't cover vehicles older than 1995. RelayRides would list my truck, but requires the owner to meet the renter and hand over the keys in person - no thanks! For owners of newer vehicles, Wheelz and Getaround seem worth investigating..
Ari Soglin (Editor) January 06, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Interesting detail about the exclusion of older vehicles by Wheelz and Getaround. Thanks for sharing that information, Tim. I just ran across some research that talks about the trend among 16- to 34-year-olds to drive less and use alternative modes of transportation. The report says: "According to the National Household Travel Survey, from 2001 to 2009, the annual number of vehiclemiles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent." I'll upload the document, "Transportation and the New Generation," to this article. The report is funded by a nonprofit independent agency, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund; however, some findings in the report are based on a studies by others, including Zipcar.
Jaxon Smith April 02, 2014 at 03:21 AM
Very efficiently written information. It will be priceless to anybody who uses it, together with myself. Sustain the good work – for positive i will try extra posts.

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