University Switches Car-Sharing Companies

After two years with the car-sharing company Zipcar, Ohio State University (OSU) has decided to continue the program with another vendor, Connect by Hertz, according to the OSU student newspaper The Lantern.

Connect by Hertz’s flexibility to tailor the program and marketing to OSU was one reason the university made the switch. Other factors included insurance, rates, support features and services, and promotional periods and offers.

Connect by Hertz does not charge the university for the cars, unlike many companies that require some type of revenue guarantee. In return, OSU is helping to maintain the vehicles and the program itself. OSU is responsible for the marketing and advertising for the program, said Doug Lape, executive assistant to the director of Transportation and Parking Services.

However, once the program becomes profitable, the university will receive 2 percent of the net revenue, which will go back into the program. The revenue sharing is estimated to take approximately 15 to 24 months.

Unlike other companies that bid for the contract, Connect by Hertz was willing to modify its marketing strategies and materials to the OSU community while also adhering to university branding policies. The company’s insurance deductible of $250 was also lower than other vendors.

Rental rates for students vary with each vehicle, but all rates include 180 free miles per day and fuel, maintenance and campus parking. The Toyota Prius Hybrid is $8 an hour or $62 a day. The Toyota Camry and the Ford Escape are $9 an hour or $68 a day.

The university originally contracted Flexcar for the campus car-sharing program that allowed students to rent cars at an hourly rate. After Flexcar went through a merger, Zipcar inherited the company and the university’s contract.

“We’d like the program to succeed because it provides the university community with alternative transportation options that will help move us forward in meeting the university’s overall sustainability commitments and provides alternatives for students who can't bring vehicles to campus,” Lape said. Eilis Fyda, director of market development at Hertz, said the cars have an onboard communication system with the company where drivers press a button, like OnStar, and reach a representative. Other features include a card-reader entry system.

“When you make a reservation beforehand, the system will know it’s you and is expecting you. You hold your card over the reader and the door unlocks,” Fyda said. The key is waiting inside, tethered to the console. If someone enters the car without using the correct card, the system locks, and the car won’t start. If the system fails to read the card, Hertz employees can remotely unlock the car.

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