Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nothing next week, but...

So far I've spoken with someone from U-Haul's U Car Share ( program and someone from the local corporate Enterprise office. Both are quite interested in the situation. Obviously, neither will be setting up a car sharing program in San Diego next week, but there is hope for the longer term. If you haven't already emailed with the info mentioned in this blog's original post, please do so. Demonstrating interest is key to getting a company to enter this market, and with enough interest we may end up with multiple suitors.

The Enterprise representative is exploring possibilities for a corporate account that could help us avoid buying cars while we await Flex/Zipcar's replacement. A good deal on a rental won't be enough to get everyone through this period, but combined with other transportation options it may be enough for many of us if there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll continue attempts to reach Avis and Hertz tomorrow. The comments that have been made regarding starting a car sharing program from scratch are appreciated, but I personally don't plan to take on that challenge. If you have the time, money, and dedication to lead such an effort, I'd be glad to add you to the list of potential car sharing programs; please send me an email.

Today, our family used a car from the downtown Enterprise in place of our eliminated Flexcar reservation. Though less convenient and more expensive than Flexcar, the experience demonstrated we don't need to rush out and buy a car. The walk was 15 minutes each way, much farther than Flexcar, but at least it was within walking distance. (They offer included pick-up and drop-off, but I'd rather not add to their costs and I'd like to be on good terms with the staff. In any case, it would be one more thing to coordinate.) The process of getting the car and returning the car was much longer than with Flexcar, but perhaps that will be less of an issue after becoming more familiar with the staff and process. The office closes at 6pm M-F, 3pm Sat, and 2pm Sun, after which cars can be returned near the airport until 11pm, so the time options for returning cars are limited or ruin the walkability aspect. The total cost, including gas (we bought 2 gallons), tax, damage waivers, and insurance was $64. That's $33 after tax for a day's intermediate rental through the website using a corporate account, $24 for waivers and insurance, and $7 at the Shell station down the street. Our Flexcar reservation, pro-rating the monthly fee, would have cost $21 total. From what I've seen on the web, a typical car sharing rate would have led to a cost of $45-$50 total. If we start using the rentals regularly, we might get a "named non-owner" insurance policy and decline the waivers and insurance. That would save $24 per day, but would cost $374 per 6 months and introduce a $500 deductible in the case of an accident. The staff was friendly. Overall, the cost was less than ideal but bearable for us and the inconvenience was the real stumbling block to having rentals be a long term solution for our family. I can imagine rentals getting us through the transition from Flexcar to the next car sharing program. For anyone dependent on the incredibly good Frequent Flexer pricing (that produces the $21 estimate mentioned above), both the cost and convenience would be serious issues.

Some of you must be trying out the alternatives. What are you finding?


tequilajunkies said...

I suppose that everyone was seeking alternatives last weekend!

We ended up grabbing a Zipcar at UCSD Hillcrest; it wasn't too bad other than we had to grab buses to/from the location.

With the $25 credit it cost less than 8 bucks for the 4 hours, which is pretty darn cheap.

We are going to try it for a 24-hour period in a couple of weeks and in the meantime I am re-igniting my relationship with Enterprise near my office!

Bucky said...

$374 per 6 months seems overpriced for a named-non-owner policy. If you shop around you can get it for half that! Even if it is more money upfront this is the better way to go in the long run. Insurance companies will give you longevity credits after you've been with them for a while. If you do buy a car in the future this will benefit you. Also, the coverage you are buying from the rental agency is the CA state minimum. If you hit someone in a Hummer the insurance will only pay for the first $25k and you are on the hook for the rest!