Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president, cuts the ribbon to launch Carpingo. Looking on (right to left) is Gil Cygler, Carpingo CEO, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and Carlo Scissura, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president. In an Aug. 15 press statement, Markowitz estimated that Carpingo’s services will bring more than half a million dollars into the Brooklyn economy in the company’s first year.
AllCar Rent-A-Car launched the hourly car sharing company Carpingo in Brooklyn, N.Y. in mid-August of this year. Currently, the service has 38 vehicles including models such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Fiat 500 and Toyota Rav4, according to Gil Cygler, founder of Carpingo and president of AllCar.
As of late September, Cygler and his team have built the service up to a modest base of 100 members. “There’s definitely a need for a smaller, neighborhood car sharing program that customers might want to turn to if the big name programs are all out of cars or too expensive,” Cygler says. “We could appeal to [renters’] loyalty to a local company.”
While operating a traditional car rental company for more than 30 years gave Cygler a leg up in the car sharing world, he found that opening Carpingo came with a set of challenges unique to car sharing.
Securing adequate parking spots in New York City was one of those challenges. All of Carpingo’s vehicles are parked on private lots, which Cygler says can be fairly costly compared to other cities. He says that while a traditional car rental lot might rent for $3,000-$4,000 a month, he’s paying $200-$400 per spot for his Carpingo cars.
And in some areas, Zipcar, the dominant car sharing company in New York and largest in the country, had already negotiated exclusive parking arrangements.
With cars spread throughout 12 Brooklyn neighborhoods, Cygler has had to tactically choose his parking locations. “We’re constantly on the lookout for spots and figuring out where customers want us to be,” he says. Among Carpingo’s criteria are well-lit and well-populated areas with good public transportation — a strategy aimed at allowing customers to easily get to and from the car.
But with those 12 locations come as many as 12 different landlords each with a separate bill, insurance certificate and security deposit.
Each Carpingo vehicle is installed with hardware that connects to the reservations and operations system, which tracks the vehicle, calculates time and mileage, and locks/unlocks the car.
While the device may appear similar to a GPS tracking unit, the installation, maintenance and costs are much greater. For example, AllCar’s traditional GPS tracking units cost about $160 each and took about 20 minutes to install. But the car sharing device, by Metavera Solutions, costs about $1,200 per unit and takes three to four hours to install.
In addition, each car model has slightly different wiring and configurations. Cygler says that synchronizing the cars and the units proved to be a challenge, and some cars did not initially respond to the transponders. “Getting the units installed is a complicated process — more complicated than expected,” he says.