A new car-sharing company called iCar has launched in the Boston metro area, providing locals with another car sharing option.
The Somerville, Mass.-based iCar, Wheels To Go began accepting members in August. The company's current fleet of 27 vehicles includes hybrids and 15-passenger vans. iCar vehicles are located in Somerville, Cambridge and Allston, with locations coming soon on Beacon Street in Brookline and in Central Square in Cambridge.
The majority of iCar's vehicles are available for $5 per hour during the week and $7 per hour on weekends. Daily rates start at just $69. Nearly all of iCar's vehicles come equipped with GPS units free of charge.
"As a decade old industry dominated by not-for-profits and Zipcar, it is both gratifying and exciting for me to see the emergence of iCar, Wheels To Go as the newest state-of-the-art car sharing service offering a very compelling, customer friendly, convenient and cost effective solution to the short term local travel needs of the residents, businesses, institutions and government agencies of the greater Boston community," said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group Inc., a travel industry consultancy.
iCar was founded by two local women who saw a lack of competition in the Boston car-sharing market and wanted to provide an accessible, affordable alternative to the bigger names in car sharing in the area.
"Competition is healthy," says Jennifer Jones, business development and marketing manager of iCar. "Our members are ecstatic they finally have another car sharing option in Boston."
iCar vehicles have communication units mounted to the windshield of every vehicle, allowing members to make and extend reservations inside the vehicle instead of reserving hours or days ahead of time. Although, the company says members can still reserve a vehicle for up to a year ahead of time.
In addition, unlike other car sharing companies that charge a hefty late fee that is collected by the companies, iCar's late fee goes directly to the inconvenienced member. If the reserved vehicle is not available when it's supposed to be, iCar will locate another vehicle for the member, give the member a ride to the vehicle or reimburse the member for the cab fare, and credit the member with the offending member's late fee.
"I didn't think that the car sharing model could be improved much," says John T., one of iCar's first members, "But then iCar Wheels To Go arrived in Somerville and showed it can be done. The iCar team understands that car sharing is all about convenience. I love having the option of renting on the quarter hour, the ability to make reservations right from the car, and having a GPS unit in most of the cars. Since joining iCar, I haven't used another service once - iCar offers everything I need."